Special Report: Aftermath of Terror
Muslim Welder Files a Discrimination Suit,
Claims Firing Reflects Religion, Ethnicity
By NORIHIKO SHIROUZU
Staff Reporter of THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
DETROIT -- A Muslim welder who says he was fired from his job a day after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks
because of his religion and ethnic origins filed a discrimination suit against his employer.
The lawsuit, which seeks more than $25,000 in damages, was filed Monday in a Wayne County circuit
court in Detroit.
Ahmed Esa, a 48-year-old native of Yemen, alleges that he became a target of "extreme" and
"outrageous" verbal attacks on his ethnic origins and religion when he arrived at his workplace, IW&S Inc.
in River Rouge, Mich., on Sept. 12. Mr. Esa said in the lawsuit that his boss, Paul Rakoczy, told Mr. Esa
to "go home."
According to the complaint, Mr. Rakoczy also told others that Mr. Esa's religion is "the scum of the earth"
and that Islam "breeds terrorism."
Mr. Rakoczy confirmed in an interview shortly after the incident that he told Mr. Esa to go home but
contends he didn't fire Mr. Esa. Mr. Rakoczy said he had little for Mr. Esa to do at the plant that day and
that he also was upset with "the whole Arab situation" following the attacks. On Monday, Mr. Rakoczy
reiterated his move to send Mr. Esa home reflected his "need to keep the place running efficiently."
"I sent the guy home to pray the rest of the week. Simple as that," he said.
Named as defendants in the suit are Intercity Window & Sash Co., a Michigan company that does
business as IW&S; PML Employment Services Inc. in Rochester Hills, Mich.; and Mr. Rakoczy, who says
he owns Intercity Window & Sash. Jim Shelton, general manager of PML Employment Services, said his
company subcontracts payroll and human-resources functions for IW&S, and employees at IW&S
"technically belong to PML."
Mr. Shelton said Mr. Esa was sent home on Sept. 12 as part of a "temporary layoff" for retooling at IW&S.
"I do not know if there were comments made to [Mr. Esa], but if there were, of course that would be totally
unacceptable as far as our company is concerned," Mr. Shelton said.
Mr. Esa said last week that he was paid for the week of the terror attacks but hasn't had any source of