CHICAGO - Federal officials have filed a discrimination lawsuit on behalf of a Muslim man who claims his former employer harassed him about his religious observance and eventually fired him. Amer Mirza, 25, of Aurora accuses his bosses at Specialty Publishing Co. in Carol Stream of violating his civil rights by discriminating against his national origin and religion. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed the lawsuit Monday. David Smedley, part owner of Specialty Publishing, denied Mirza's accusations.
"We look forward to proving our innocence in court," Smedley said Wednesday. Mirza, a U.S. citizen who emigrated from India in 1994, said his boss threatened to fire him for regularly leaving on his lunch break to attend Friday prayer service. He said the alleged harassment grew worse in early 2003 as the United States prepared to invade Iraq. "It seems like I could just feel the hate building over there," Mirza said Tuesday. "I feel it was very unjust." Mirza, who worked as a Web developer, was fired in September 2003, according to the lawsuit.