(CHICAGO, IL, 7/24/09) – The Chicago chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Chicago) today announced a verdict in favor of an Arab-American correctional officer in a discrimination case litigated pro bono against the Cook County Sheriff’s Department by CAIR-Chicago Staff Attorney Kevin Vodak.
The verdict awarded Officer Abraham Yasin $200,000 in damages for harassment found to be pervasive or severe enough to create a hostile and abusive work environment.
CAIR-Chicago began litigation on behalf of Officer Abraham Yasin in 2007 after he reported experiencing harassment by other correctional officers starting in December 2004. Cook County officers continuously and anonymously targeted Yasin with racist slurs such as “terrorist,””Hussein,” “sand ni**er,” “bin Laden,” “shoe bomber,” and “camel jockey” verbally and via graffiti on his locker. Yasin testified that his co-workers made calls over the radio and telephone about his ancestry and national origin as many as ten times a day and countless times for over a one-year period.
SEE: Cook County Deputy Testifies that He Felt ‘Demonized’ by Racial Harassment (Chicago Tribune)
Despite repeatedly reporting the incidents, multiple supervisors and the Internal Affairs Division failed to take adequate corrective action.
In a statement today Officer Yasin said, “After having agonized for so long, I can finally feel a sense of relief and vindication. I served my country in uniform with dignity and honor and felt betrayed that my service would be met by some of my fellows with racial slurs, harassment, and ridicule. This is not what our country is about. Today’s victory is not only for me, but for justice, fair play, and equality regardless of race, gender, or creed.”
“This was an unprecedented decision by jury trial in the state of Illinois,” said CAIR-Chicago Staff Attorney Kevin Vodak. “The case stands as a legal precedent and a symbol of hope for Arab-Americans to expect to be free of harassment in their workplace. The jury sent a clear message that no one is above the law in this matter, including the Cook County Sheriff.”
Chicago attorney Jim Fennerty was co-counsel on the case. Cook County is the second most populous county in the United States after Los Angeles County.
CAIR is America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.
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CONTACT: Ahmed Rehab, Executive Director, CAIR-Chicago, E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, 312-212-1520; or 202-870-0016; Reem Rahman, Communications Coordinator, CAIR-Chicago, E-Mail: email@example.com, 217-493-0912 or 312-212-1520; Kevin Vodak, Attorney, CAIR-Chicago, E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; 312-212-1520; CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-488-8787, 202-744-7726, E-Mail: email@example.com; CAIR Communications Coordinator Amina Rubin, 202-488-8787, 202-341-4171, E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org