BATH, Maine — Attorneys for a former Bath Iron Works employee who says he was harassed, routinely spat at by other employees and subjected to hate speech because he is of Palestinian descent and a Muslim have agreed to dismiss three of five counts in his federal discrimination lawsuit.
Attorney Shaun Khan, who represents former shipyard employee Husam Abed, confirmed Thursday that the two parties will begin private mediation on the two remaining allegations of unlawful discrimination and a hostile work environment.
Bath Iron Works spokesman Matt Wickenheiser said Thursday that company officials would not comment on pending litigation.
Abed of Portland initially filed suit in Massachusetts in November, but the case was transferred to federal court in Maine in January. The suit seeks $75,000 in damages.
In court documents, Abed alleges the shipyard allowed an “anti-Muslim culture” to become ingrained at its facilities.
The suit alleges that from the time Abed began working as a designer at BIW in 2007 until he took a leave of absence and left employment last year, he “faced severe discrimination and harassment based solely on his religion, race and national origin,” Khan wrote in a November complaint.
Khan claims that Abed worked in a culture of routine hate speech that was not prevented by the company.
According to court documents, an Afghanistan flag given to the shipyard by the U.S. Marine Corps for the company’s support of the United Way and Toys for Tots — which continued to hang “in plain view” in the mail walkway at Bath Iron Work’s Hardings facility at the time the suit was filed — was “decimated with hate graffiti,” marked with the words “Devils” and “kill them,” and with a drawing of a bomb over the mosque in the center of the flag.
The suit alleges that Abed had to walk by the flag, which had graffiti “that degrades his religion on a daily basis.” It also claims that he witnessed multiple employees spit on the flag.
In addition, the suit claims that a co-worker and supervisor targeted Abed, “spewing hate speech” near their cubicles, and that Abed’s personal computer account was singled out and compromised.
Abed left work under the Family Medical Leave Act and then resigned “due to emotional distress.”
According to court documents, Judge Jon D. Levy on March 4 granted a joint request by both parties to dismiss counts of breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing, breach of contract, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
Levy also authorized the two parties to enter private mediation for the remaining two counts, violation of civil rights, including unlawful discrimination and a hostile work environment.
Khan said the two parties “agreed to narrow the issues” and dismissed all but the two “discrimination claims.”
“We’re hoping for a resolution and settlement,” he said.
According to the joint motion, the parties expect to conduct the mediation in or about mid-April, and it must be concluded by April 30.