The owners of a Mendocino inn have agreed to pay $165,000 to settle a lawsuit by an Arab American restaurant manager who said he was fired after protesting racist remarks by a customer.

In addition to the payments to Abdellatiff Hadji, the Albion River Inn’s operators agreed to revise the restaurant’s anti-harassment policies and require all staff to attend anti-discrimination training once a year.

The settlement, filed with a San Francisco federal judge Wednesday as the case was about to go to trial, contains no admission of wrongdoing.

According to the suit, filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and joined by Hadji, the manager was told in November 2004 that a customer had cursed at a waiter of Tunisian origin the previous evening and demanded to know why he didn’t speak English.

When the same customer returned that day, the suit said, Hadji approached and told him politely that he did not approve of his comments. The customer replied by suggesting that Hadji go back to his own country, told him, “I fought two wars to get rid of people like you,” swore at him and challenged him to fight, the suit said. After being told by Hadji to leave, the customer left a complaint at the front desk.

The next day, the suit said, Hadji was told he would lose his job unless he wrote a letter of apology to the customer. He refused and was fired.

The lawsuit accused the inn’s operators of discriminating against the Moroccan-born manager based on his national origin. William Tamayo, regional attorney for the federal commission, said Thursday that the law required the inn’s managers to step in and protect the waiter after the customer’s initial remarks, as Hadji tried to do the next day. (MORE)


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