A Muslim former North Chicago police officer who said he was called a “terrorist” by his fellow officers and subjected to other harassment has won an almost $500,000 settlement.
Council On American Islamic Relations (CAIR) Chicago, a civil liberties and advocacy organization, announced this week they resolved “one of the most significant employment cases” involving religious and national origin discrimination in federal court in Illinois.
The organization represented Ramtin Sabet, a former police officer for the City of North Chicago since 2007, who they say faced “relentless” harassment and belittling from his co-workers based on his Islamic faith and Iranian nationality.
CAIR alleged the hostile work environment created by constant Islamophobic comments, insults and ridicule led to Sabet’s termination in 2016.
Sabet documented the incidents, which reportedly included insulting events, derogatory statements about him and his family, and frequent Islamophobic comments.
“They told me that I hold a gun like Muslim, like a terrorist Muslim,” Sabet said.
“I serve this country. I wear a blue uniform with an American flag [patch]… for over 15 years. I got their back. I pulled them out of the fire, when they fell down and broke their wrist I put him back in my squad car and took him to the hospital, when they were shot in the shoulder… I helped them. And this is how they treat me?” he said.
Sabet brought complaints to his supervisor orally and in writing but they were ignored or met with consequences, such as being denied promotions and training opportunities, according to CAIR.
The former officer filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois and the case was set for trial this past November, which prompted both sides to reach a settlement agreement of $475,000.
Phil Robertson, Litigation Director of CAIR-Chicago and lead counsel on the case, expressed the significance of the settlement for the community and said that workplace bullying and harassment “will not be tolerated, irrespective of demographic factors and who is the perpetrator.”
“This is a tremendous win for the community in the future. It shows that this type of bullying and harassment at work will not be permitted, condoned, or pushed quietly under the rug, regardless of your demographic,” Robertson said.
Sabet said the settlement represents “not only a personal victory but a triumph for everyone who has faced discrimination at the workplace.”
“It re-affirms that standing up against injustice can lead to positive change,” Sabet said.
Sabet started his career in law enforcement over 20 years ago and worked for the North Chicago Police Department from 2007 until he was terminated in early 2017.
Police officials said at the time of the lawsuit being filed that Sabet was “terminated for violations of police department rules and regulations.”