33 Immigrants Charge Exploitation, Says Reinhardt & Anderson, Attorneys At Law

Car Rental Firms Guilty of Religious & Racial Bias Against Somali Employees,

Lawsuit Says



Most of the Men Were Suddenly Fired on the Same Day



May 08, 2001, 01:00 ET from Reinhardt & Anderson, Attorneys At Law

    MINNEAPOLIS, May 8 /PRNewswire/ -- Charges of assault, intimidation,
 exploitation, religious and racial discrimination, and unfair working
 conditions were filed today by 33 recently-fired African refugees in a civil
 lawsuit against National Car Rental and Alamo Rent-A-Car today in Hennepin
 County District Court.
     "These good, hard-working men with an extraordinary work ethic.  They fled
 a bloody civil war hoping to find a safe place to raise their families," said
 attorney Patrick Noaker.  "But at their most vulnerable moment -- not speaking
 the language or knowing the laws of a new country -- they were exploited by
 their own employer, on whom they depended."
     Surrounded by their families, the men held a noon hour news conference in
 the Hennepin County Government Center atrium in downtown Minneapolis.
 Attorneys for the Somalis say that company managers exploited them, repeatedly
 using racial slurs (including "nigger," "bushmen," and "gorillas,"), mocking
 their faith, refusing to allow them time for prayer on breaks and denying them
 days off for religious holidays.
     One manager assaulted a Somali with a three-foot snow scraper in front of
 other men to intimidate them.  Most of the immigrants were suddenly fired on
 the same day last August.
     "When these men went to work, they did not leave their dignity at home,"
 Noaker said.  "They do not ask for special treatment, just humane treatment.
 But because of the color of their skin and because of their Muslim faith, they
 were assaulted, ridiculed and told they couldn't even say a prayer during a
 coffee break."
     The suit also charges that the firms broke state and federal wage laws by
 employing a practice where the men would work an eight hour shift, then "clock
 out" and immediately work a second eight hour shift as "temporary employees."
 The complaint seeks unspecified monetary damages and an end to exploitation
 and discrimination at the two companies.
     "These firms promoted an offensive and oppressive environment, filled with
 hostility and physical intimidation based solely on the race, national origin,
 and religious beliefs of these good, hard-working men," Noaker said.  "Now is
 the time for these Somali people to come together to restore their dignity,
 end their abuse, and seek justice through the courts."
     Since 1996, dozens of men from war-torn Somalia have worked cleaning and
 driving cars for National Car Rental and Alamo Rent-A-Car at the St.
 Paul/Minneapolis airport.
     Each of the 33 plaintiffs are refugees from the civil war in the eastern
 African country of Somalia, and are legally living and working in the
 United States.
     Patrick W. Noaker and Jeffrey R. Anderson of the Reinhardt & Anderson law
 firm in St. Paul, represent the men.
 
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SOURCE Reinhardt & Anderson, Attorneys At Law
    MINNEAPOLIS, May 8 /PRNewswire/ -- Charges of assault, intimidation,
 exploitation, religious and racial discrimination, and unfair working
 conditions were filed today by 33 recently-fired African refugees in a civil
 lawsuit against National Car Rental and Alamo Rent-A-Car today in Hennepin
 County District Court.
     "These good, hard-working men with an extraordinary work ethic.  They fled
 a bloody civil war hoping to find a safe place to raise their families," said
 attorney Patrick Noaker.  "But at their most vulnerable moment -- not speaking
 the language or knowing the laws of a new country -- they were exploited by
 their own employer, on whom they depended."
     Surrounded by their families, the men held a noon hour news conference in
 the Hennepin County Government Center atrium in downtown Minneapolis.
 Attorneys for the Somalis say that company managers exploited them, repeatedly
 using racial slurs (including "nigger," "bushmen," and "gorillas,"), mocking
 their faith, refusing to allow them time for prayer on breaks and denying them
 days off for religious holidays.
     One manager assaulted a Somali with a three-foot snow scraper in front of
 other men to intimidate them.  Most of the immigrants were suddenly fired on
 the same day last August.
     "When these men went to work, they did not leave their dignity at home,"
 Noaker said.  "They do not ask for special treatment, just humane treatment.
 But because of the color of their skin and because of their Muslim faith, they
 were assaulted, ridiculed and told they couldn't even say a prayer during a
 coffee break."
     The suit also charges that the firms broke state and federal wage laws by
 employing a practice where the men would work an eight hour shift, then "clock
 out" and immediately work a second eight hour shift as "temporary employees."
 The complaint seeks unspecified monetary damages and an end to exploitation
 and discrimination at the two companies.
     "These firms promoted an offensive and oppressive environment, filled with
 hostility and physical intimidation based solely on the race, national origin,
 and religious beliefs of these good, hard-working men," Noaker said.  "Now is
 the time for these Somali people to come together to restore their dignity,
 end their abuse, and seek justice through the courts."
     Since 1996, dozens of men from war-torn Somalia have worked cleaning and
 driving cars for National Car Rental and Alamo Rent-A-Car at the St.
 Paul/Minneapolis airport.
     Each of the 33 plaintiffs are refugees from the civil war in the eastern
 African country of Somalia, and are legally living and working in the
 United States.
     Patrick W. Noaker and Jeffrey R. Anderson of the Reinhardt & Anderson law
 firm in St. Paul, represent the men.
 
                     MAKE YOUR OPINION COUNT -  Click Here
                http://tbutton.prnewswire.com/prn/11690X43923415
 
 SOURCE  Reinhardt & Anderson, Attorneys At Law