Self-storage operator Mini Price Storage plans to appeal a judge’s order directing the company to pay more than $150,000 to a former employee who claims he was a victim of religious discrimination.
According to The Virginian-Pilot newspaper, federal Judge Raymond A. Jackson ruled that Mini Price Storage improperly fired Sean Mohammed, a Seventh-day Adventist, after he complained about being required to work on the Sabbath.
Jackson ordered Virginia Beach, VA-based Mini Price Storage to pay Mohammed $150,730 in back pay, as well as attorneys’ fees and court costs.
My client has existed as a fair and non discriminatory employer for many years and, frankly, the decision made in this case is incorrect.
— Lisa Bertini, attorney for Mini Price Storage
Lisa Bertini, an attorney for Mini Price Storage, said the storage operator will appeal the judge’s ruling.
“My client has existed as a fair and non discriminatory employer for many years and, frankly, the decision made in this case is incorrect,” Bertini said in a statement. “We wish Mr. Mohammad well but he worked here for 4 years with every accommodation and was let go for reasons that were properly before the court and in no way retaliatory.”
Ari Wilkenfeld, one of Mohammed’s attorneys, told The Virginian-Pilot that the judge’s decision was vindication for his client. Wilkenfeld said Mohammed found it hard to get work after he was fired in 2011 and now is in debt.
Disagreement over performance
According to the judge’s opinion, Mohammed worked for Mini Price Storage from Feb. 12, 2007, though Jan. 31, 2011, as an assistant manager. During the interview process, Mohammed told the company he could work every day except Saturday—his Sabbath.
In March 2010, Tashondi Goodman, took over as area manager for Mini Price Storage. Five months later, the newspaper reported, Goodman scheduled Mohammed to work Saturday shifts. Mohammed objected, so Saturday shifts were removed from his schedule.
In an email to the company’s HR manager, Goodman cited “lack of performance and lack of work” in firing Mohammed in January 2011, according to The Virginian-Pilot. However, the judge said he didn’t believe Goodman’s reason, after evidence was produced showing that the monitoring of Mohammed’s job performance differed from the monitoring of any other employee.
The judge noted that several mystery-shopper evaluations from 2008 to 2010 found Mohammed to be an “excellent” employee, The Virginian-Pilot reported. One evaluation described him as “providing the best experience across all of Mini Price.”
To read the judge’s order in this case, visit bit.ly/1e6mhYN.