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Muslim man says Bed Bath & Beyond coworkers called him ‘terrorist’ and fired him for his beard

Justin Carissimo
New York
Monday 09 November 2015 16:51 GMT
The retail giant known for bath mats, coffee makers and legendary coupons is shown.
The retail giant known for bath mats, coffee makers and legendary coupons is shown. (Mike Mozart/Flickr)

Jose Alcantara, 48, has filed a discrimination lawsuit against Bed Bath & Beyond, his former employer.

Mr Alcantara claims he was repeatedly called a “terrorist” by his colleagues and the company’s human resources department ignored his concerns.

“When I was being called a terrorist, it made me question everything — my religion, my beliefs, myself,” he told the New York Daily News.

“These were people I trusted and was trying to develop a relationship with. I felt really betrayed. They stabbed me in the back.”

Mr Alcantara landed the job in October 2012 in New York City. After recovering from throat and mouth cancer, and watching his mother-in-law battle cancer, he turned to Islam and began to grow out his beard.

After he was questioned about his faith and beard by his former manager, Mr Alcantara said he was greeted with disparaging comments at work: “Good morning, terrorist. How are you terrorist?”

He told the Daily News that another HR manager had asked if he was “seriously following the Muslim religion."

Mr Alcanta was approved vacation days on December 23, 2013 through January 2, 2014. When he returned to work he was fired for missing two days during this period.

The company released a statement to the outlet after news of the lawsuit hit.

“Bed Bath & Beyond strictly prohibits any form of harassment or unlawful discrimination. We disagree with the characterization of the separation that was provided. We will respond to this matter in the appropriate forum, should any further legal action be taken.”

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission reportedly determined in July that the store had discriminated against Mr Alcantara. They also issued a "right to sue" letter.

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