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Workers Sue Plaza Hotel, Claim Harassment

September 30, 2003

NEW YORK (AP) _ Managers at the posh Plaza Hotel called Arab-American employees terrorists after the Sept. 11 attacks, referring to them as ``Osama″ or ``dumb Muslim,″ a lawsuit alleges.

The lawsuit was one of two filed Tuesday by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, accusing companies of discriminating against Arab-Americans following the attacks.

The second lawsuit was filed against a graphics company and Newsweek magazine by a man who said he was fired 10 days after the attacks after being falsely accused of speaking out against the United States.

The lawsuit against the Plaza and its parent company was filed on behalf of 10 employees who said their white managers began comparing them to terrorists shortly after the attacks.

``I am a law-abiding person,″ said Ehsan Khan, 43, a banquet staff employee. ``I did not deserve the insults and the poor treatment.″

The hotel released a statement saying the charges ``are either unfounded or have already been resolved.″ An assistant manager was asked to resign and others were suspended after employees complained, the hotel said.

``In fact, immediately after Sept. 11, hotel executives met personally with employees in every department and stressed the need for tolerance and unity and repeated this message at employee general meetings since then,″ the hotel said.

All but one of the 10 employees still work there. One employee was dismissed in August 2002, said EEOC attorney Kam S. Wong.

The lawsuit against Applied Graphics Technologies and Newsweek allege that eight-year employee Jesus R. Mustafa was wrongly accused of saying the United States got what it deserved in the days after the terrorist attacks. Mustafa was a technical editor for graphics that appeared in Newsweek, EEOC lawyers said.

Newsweek spokeswoman Rosanna Maietta said the magazine doesn’t directly employ Mustafa and had nothing to do with his dismissal. Applied Graphics officials did not immediately return a telephone call seeking comment Tuesday.

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