Lisbon man sues Walmart alleging discrimination

AUBURN — A Lisbon man of Ethiopian descent who worked at Walmart in Lewiston for four years is suing his former employer, claiming the company discriminated against him because of his race and in retaliation for his complaint about discrimination and a workplace injury.

Wal-Mart denied a complaint made to the Maine Human Rights Commission.

Abdulaziz Omar filed a civil complaint last week in Androscoggin County Superior Court against Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. In the complaint, he states that his supervisor, in 2009, treated him less favorably than workers who were not black. He started working at the company's receiving location in Lewiston in 2006.

His supervisor had called Omar into his office and asked him where he was from. When Omar said he was Ethiopian, his supervisor said he didn't feel comfortable having Omar around the desk. His supervisor also asked Omar whether he spoke English. Those actions made Omar "feel uncomfortable and targeted" because of his race, the complaint says.

Omar's repeated complaints to the operations manager about his supervisor were unanswered, Omar said in his lawsuit.

Omar's complaint to the company's human resources department resulted in the erasure of his low performance ratings due to his supervisor's discriminatory treatment, he said.

His supervisor continued to discriminate against Omar, assigning him to tasks that resulted in a "lower production rate" than his co-workers, he said.

In March 2010, Omar was injured on the job. He reported the injury to his supervisor, he said. His supervisor told him not to seek medical attention because it would cost the company a lot of money, Omar said. His supervisor didn't report Omar's injury.

A month later, still in pain, Omar talked about his injury with the operations manager, who said he would investigate, but never did, Omar said.

In April, Omar's supervisor disciplined him for doing something on the job that other employees had done and had not been disciplined for, he said. When Omar refused to sign a document noting the disciplinary action, his supervisor told Omar he'd be deported.

He complained to the human resources department about his supervisor and operations manager, but no action was taken, he said.

Two months later, he was fired after an error surfaced that he was blamed for, but didn't commit, he said.

Omar filed a complaint with the Maine Human Rights Commission in 2011. Last year, an investigator at the Commission found no reasonable grounds for his complaints of discrimination and retaliation.

A legal representative for Wal-Mart denied the company unlawfully discriminated or retaliated against Omar. The company had "many performance issues" with Omar before he was fired, attorney Angela Cummings said. Omar's discipline was consistent with disciplinary action taken against other non-African/Ethiopian workers, she said. He was fired because he "falsified safety information which could have endangered another" worker, she said.

Because Omar didn't seek workers' compensation benefits while he was working for Walmart, he didn't receive immediate medical care, she said.

Omar sued for compensatory damages for pain and suffering, psychological upset and interference with the enjoyment of life, as well as for punitive damages.

He is also seeking attorneys' fees and fees for expert witnesses.

cwilliams@sunjournal.com

What do you think of this story?

Login to post comments

In order to make comments, you must create a subscription.

In order to comment on SunJournal.com, you must hold a valid subscription allowing access to this website. You must use your real name and include the town in which you live in your SunJournal.com profile. To subscribe or link your existing subscription click here.

Login or create an account here.

Our policy prohibits comments that are:

  • Defamatory, abusive, obscene, racist, or otherwise hateful
  • Excessively foul and/or vulgar
  • Inappropriately sexual
  • Baseless personal attacks or otherwise threatening
  • Contain illegal material, or material that infringes on the rights of others
  • Commercial postings attempting to sell a product/item
If you violate this policy, your comment will be removed and your account may be banned from posting comments.

Advertisement

Comments

FRANK EARLEY's picture

He needs legal advise......

I don't see race so much as a factor in this, but I do see a familiar trend here. I see a supervisor manipulating the performance record of an employee, to deflect responsibility from himself. Supervisors, or middle managers, are a different breed. They function on the premiss that every action of every employee under his supervision, is his to do what ever he needs to further his agenda. Any blemishes on his record is unacceptable, therefore corrective action must be taken, and the employee will suffer what ever actions it takes to keep the record clean. You have to remember, "Middle Management" by definition means being so close to "Corporate" they can taste it. Therefore anything goes, right or wrong, moral or immoral, legal or illegal, it's whatever they feel they can get away with. Because of this attitude, any complaints to management, will be handled based on how this will reflect on the supervisor. Therefore everyone needs to rethink, how they report workplace injustices. Don't expect Corporate to be of any help, after all, middle management is their "Farm Team:, There are dozens of potential corporate types vying for those precious few corporate positions which allow them to have someone else do their dirty work....

Wow...

A mega corporation that has a track record of discriminating against women and minorities appears to be criminally negligent in regard to yet another employee...

...and every single comment I see is either chock full of or "cleverly" laced with racism...

... even the half-hearted apology is bigoted... but thank you anyway ...

If I offended anyone then good. You probably deserved it.

Roger Moulton's picture

It wasn't a half hearted apology.

It was an apology to far less than half of the samoli population that actually deserves to be here and contributes back to our society without searching for a lawsuit. And you certainly didn't offend me you just proved that you are ignorant and can't see what the samoli population is really doing in Lewiston...but keep up the good work, it's guys like you that encourage these types of crazy lawsuits.

Catherine Pressey's picture

Marc Gardner Yes you offended many

Get this read the story Omar filed a complaint with the Maine Human Rights Commission in 2011. Last year, an investigator at the Commission found no reasonable grounds for his complaints of discrimination and retaliation. Now I am not hear defending Wal-Mart and sure not your bigoted statements about those of us that see a different picture than you. I personally am fed up with certain people trying to have it both ways. Now Omar has found an attorney and is suing, it is his right like I said good luck to him proving he was discharged and wronged. I watch the U-tube Doc. about Wal-Mart and they have issues for sure, just can not see race being the problem here. They treat everyone the same, not so good. Ya can point that finger of racism all ya want, and you can stick it in your noise for all I care. We all have our opinions now it is up to the courts to figure out who is wrong or right. He probably wants a settlement MONEY OH that makes the world go round. Your opinion does not go in the trash, and oh poor Omar now he has a friend. Good for him! I truly hope he gets what is coming to him, good bad or not so good. IF he is vindicated good for him. We probably will never know.

GEORGE MCLEAN's picture

Lisbon Man Fd without Cause sues

These people on whole are here for the free ride. This suit that his lawyer filed is like a lottery ticket to him. This State has gained nothing from Ethiopians being here. The last nationality that gave to this State without expecting handouts were the Freanch-Canadians.

If Maine took all of these lazy, useless individual off welfare they would be gone to greener pastures in a heartbeat.

David  Cote's picture

You speak of the French-Camadians...

Indeed, a hearty group that worked the shops and mills for decades, that is, until the shops and mills died out one by one. And by reading your comment, George I understand your intent to separate those immigrants from the immigrants of today citing them as, in your words, "lazy and useless." However, there is a common thread these two different classes of immigrants share...a language barrier. Today many comments posted here virtually demand the Somalians or the Ethiopians to learn the english language because they were "in America" now. It has become, to some, a public outcry, as if today's immigrants are slapping the American flag in the faces of those offended. Yet when the French-Canadians settled here they kept their heritage and language intact. I knew of a number of them who never learned english, a few relatives like my grandmother. I never had a chat with her since I never knew how to speak french, and she held no interest in speaking english. That being said, where was the outcry to the language barrier then? Why were they accepted as is as opposed to the Somalian community of today? You know who I'm talking about, dont'cha? You know, "them kind?" Bigotry will never cease, unfortunately. It's all around us, like a miserable piece of disease. A lot of comments posted here are full of it. The authors are full of something else.

Roger Moulton's picture

THE DIFFERENCE!

The difference is that every single french canadian that moved here worked their backside off, even if they didn't learn the language they learned enough to get by, paid their own way, and never in a million years would have sued their employer if they got fired. They would have gone out and gotten a job. I'm not french canadian but if I were I'd want to slap you upside your head.

David  Cote's picture

Hey Slappy...

Next time you decide to comment on something I post do two things for me... One, have a complete understanding of the content posted before you shoot off your loose cannon, and two...keep the threats to yourself. My post was not an attack on the French-Canadian heritage. After all, I'm a part of it. My issue is with all the "good Americans" that demand immigrants learn the english language. This mindset seems to only apply to those of a different color skin. The comparison to the french speaking Canadians was just. Almost all were caucasian and no one here ever complained about the language barrier. Myself included. I wasn't slamming the french linguists as you aluded. So perhaps this will clear up your misunderstanding. If not, then we'll send out a search party for your common sense.

Catherine Pressey's picture

He started working at the company's receiving location

In 2006, after coming here from his home land. Nice that he came here and right of the bat got a job at the Wal-Mart center. What it sounds like is that the company tried very hard to work with him, while providing him with a job that many that have lived here for many years would love to have. Many of We the people and our forefathers have come here and struggled along to find that American Dream. Only to have someone from away use the fact that they are black and a minority to be hired in the first place. Than he turns around and uses the same stance to sue. The very company that chose him over the many that have tried to get hired. Sounds like he is not any longer in the minority, sounds to me like he and those coming here from away, now make the rest of us born here, lived here Americans now the minority. Yes! He now looks for a free ride, using his claim that he was fired for something he did not do. Many of We the people have been fired for something or nothing in this country and we have no regress as it is any employers right to fire us for no reason. Now just because he is black he is using that fact as discrimination for the reason for his firing. How come he did not see a doctor long before this happened like anyone of us would have to do. File a W/C claim and hope for the best outcome. Sad in my opinion that, that job did not go to the now white or other minorities that have live here and follow the rules. And pay the price like loosing the job for no reason or some unknown reason. WHY IS HE SO SPECIAL AND WHAT GIVES HIM THE RIGHT TO USE HIS COLOR IN THIS CASE. SOUNDS LIKE A SCAM TO ME. Come here and use your race to get that job and now use it to sue your employer. Yep! Smells like fish to me. Yes he should go home, if he does not like to play by the same rules as all of those fired for W/C injuries that did make claims. I wish him luck, I wonder if his lawyer is being paid by some minority group. Or worse We the people though some agency who helped him get his job. And money to relocate. AMERICA THE FREE AND BEAUTIFUL, CRAP.

RONALD RIML's picture

Katherine - You should seriously consider suing whoever

was tasked with the responsibility of teaching you grammar and sentence construction.

They failed you miserably!

Catherine Pressey's picture

YOU Ronald Riml take notice

This is Catherine, Not Katherine, just for your info.

Catherine Pressey's picture

I failed, to learn: I agree Ronald Riml

I may say aint, I may not put things into certain order, get a grip, I not writing a story to get graded by the teacher, I agree that some of us may not have understood how great it is to be able to put down onto paper our thoughts. However they did not fail me I am responsible period. lol Like Omar he has all this help and has the chance to do better than I. But to blame his race on the poor management, like many of our companies promote today. I am proud of my self that I even taught my self to use this computer that I got very used, from a friend. And it sat in my home for two years before I had the internet put in, you can insult me all you want however, I know my faults and I also know I am opinionated, and yes I can find amusement out of your lack of honoring others right to voice their opinion good bad or poorly written. None the less I shall continue to voice my thoughts on whatsoever I wish, keeping in mind I do mostly try to be kind. Like I have said Omar did not need to use his race, here. OH but that is just my opinion lol

GARY SAVARD's picture

It appears Omar learned the

It appears Omar learned the system even before learning the english language.

RONALD RIML's picture

Some of our so-called 'Americans' - who've been here all or

most of their lives, aren't quite exhibiting proficiency with writing the English language as they post comments here.

And they're criticizing Omar??

Catherine Pressey's picture

Will Rogers said:Ronald Riml

When someone in the audience, corrected him, when he said aint, "that he know people that say have eaten, that have not ete yet. So all you great education does not show respect for this person, and is rude to correct those, for wee imperfections .

Roger Moulton's picture

Well I may not use proper English

However I maintain a job and don't sue people when they no longer want me to work for them (well I can't say that because I've never been fired). And yes I am criticizing Omar, for thinking he deserves money for this, how about he just gets another job? I'm sure he can, someone must need to fill their minority quota to prove they are an EOE.

Roger Moulton's picture

You could

always go home!!!! I wish I could live "the new American dream" of coming here from somewhere else, sucking at my job or life in general and then suing someone for discrimination because it's so easy to act like a victim in this state with all its crazy liberals. Get a life or go away!

RONALD RIML's picture

Moulton's an 'American' name???

I thought it was Anglo-Saxon.

Damn.

Roger Moulton's picture

I was born here.

I didn't come here from my country that was so bad I had to leave and then sue because I couldn't hold a job.

RONALD RIML's picture

You were born here through no accomplishment of your own.

And you've done what since??

Your 'Bio' is remarkably empty.

Roger Moulton's picture

I have

contributed to society. I have paid taxes, am raising a daughter (without state aid). I don't care if my bio is empty when I die as long as those I care about viewed me as honest, loving, and a good guy. Also it would be nice to not be known as a lazy guy that sues people so I can sit on my couch...what the heck have you done Mrs. Riml? and yes the s was intentional.

Roger Moulton's picture

And

I apologize to the few Somalians that do work hard, learn the language, and don't expect the rest of us to conform to them after moving here, however I am truly tired of hearing about them and reading about them. I am curious to know the amount of Somalians and homosexuals in this neck of the woods because as far as I can see a good percentage of the Sun Journal(and every other blasted newspaper in the state) articles are about one of the two. For once, just once I'd like to be able to open a news paper in this state and not see "gay, lesbian, transgender" or "discrimination" anywhere. I have gay friends and family, I like black people but darn it I'm tired of useless stories about them crowding up my paper!

RONALD RIML's picture

Buy another paper, Roger

That solves that problem. Or are you a glutton for punishment????

Roger Moulton's picture

It's not just the Sun Journal

It's all of them. And it's idiots like you, that love to read these stories, that keep them in my paper. Grow a pair Ronald, stop trying to be so politically correct and caring and be a REALIST.

RONALD RIML's picture

I'm not a 'Realist?'

Check my 'Bio' - I have one - you don't.

It took a pair to do and experience what I did. You're merely accomplished at shooting off your mouth and criticising immigrants.

Roger Moulton's picture

Well thank you for serving our country

But as far as your law enforcement that doesn't earn you a bit of respect from me, if anything the fact that you lasted in a large city police department makes me wonder how shady you are behind the scenes. Those guys aren't known as saints ya know. And I also noticed that you are a member of the ACLU. Conversing with you is pointless. You are proud to belong to a group that promotes these crazy lawsuits and only makes it harder for businesses to survive here in Maine. Maine has more people on welfare than are employed and your ACLU does NOTHING to help but LOTS to hinder, so you sir are a donkey.

Catherine Pressey's picture

Law enforcement explanins all.

Not knowing that Ronald Riml or in law enforcement , was a police officer, that explains lots to me. Know it all good old boys that if it is your friends bro. or someone you know than they turn the other cheek. And even here Ronald insults others and puts himself above the rest of us. He is arrogant placing himself a big pat on his back. Just read his Bio of course I have not and nothing of interest to me. Now I am sure many police officers are great people but they do have that air about them. God like creatures that are powerful in their minds and souls. My issues here are we all have a right to our opinion, I will state my truth, I do not believe it is right for these people to come here and use the system. One of my good friends, a church going lady was very much in favor and supported these persons. Last I spoke to her she now has seen their true nature and realizes, that they are not what they want to project. Far different demanding and indifferent to our ways and they have chips on their shoulders. At least many do, I was very surprised to hear my friends change of mind. She would not ever dislike or persecute a race, as a matter of fact her own children have mixed blood. What many of we the people have experienced from them is rudeness and a demanding attitude with regards to shopping etc. To bad that race was used in this case, as I bet it had noting to do with Omars treatment at work. IF I WRITE OR SPELL ANYTHING WRONG, OR MY SENTENSES ARE SCREWED UP FORGIVE ME I AM OLD AND NOT A SMART AS Ronald Riml YEP! GOOD NIGHT ALL. Bottom line our country can not afford more people we can not take care of the ones already here including me. So smoke it roll it pounce on it. I do not wish them harm, just sad that they do not want to belong to our America, and they want a separate world within our borders of the state of Maine.

RONALD RIML's picture

Catherine - I apologize for my attitude toward you.

I was lucky enough to take opportunities to receive a good education through the G.I. Bill.

I tend to get a bit snippy when others criticize those they do not know - such as this immigrant - for cases which they don't know the details about - but imagine the worst. I've discovered over time that things are not always as they seem - and should take that lesson to heart for myself now and then.

Again, I'm sorry for how I treated you.

Ron Riml

Catherine Pressey's picture

We all tend to think the worst towards opinions.

All I was really trying to say about Omar is being abused by employers in not unique to him, and that no matter if he is white or not employers can and do injure workers with the different jobs and long hours. Then all the employer want to do is kick those persons to the curb. I truly believe Omar got the job because his is a immigrant, but the things that he claims are not unique to it being a race issue. More so it is a lack of caring on the part of all corporations, just pass the buck and let the W/C lawyers work out a screwing for the injured workers. Boy I bet I get into trouble with this remark, lol Anyway Ron Riml thanks for thinking things through a wee bit more. Glad we all have these comments to make us think a bit more on any issue period. Good bad or indifferent, we are a country with lots of different views. HAPPY TRIALS and comments lol

RONALD RIML's picture

AS they say about 'Opinions' LOL

I've got as many and some of the largest - so you know where that puts me, Catherine!

I swear it runs in my blood. I remember my mother writing letters to the editor when I was a youngster, and it embarrassed the hell out of me. Now I'm as Bat-Shidt Goofy as I swear I thought she was. Must say she was a real champion for the 'Under-Dog' - and was always dragging some poor 'Unfortunate' home to help them. It drove my father up a wall - but I'm sure there's a special place in heaven for her.

Catherine Pressey's picture

lmao

Yes it runs in my blood also, I have often said that it is a good thing that I was not so well educated nor outgoing in my young years as the world would not have been so safe. Let me tell you I am like your mother, I have brought persons home that were living in a tent in January, I figured that it was helping my fellow man, and that was another story, just look for a old story about a bunnie man that lived in Auburn. lol Gave him a warm place to stay with his doggie, and I caught him stealing from me, in small ways. Found out he was a taker and jeeeest a wee bit weirder than I am. Yes I admit it, like my forefathers that testified agaist the witches in salem just look up John Pressey, yep! as far as I can tell we go way back to that man. The one the witch Martin put a cruse on. Might be part of the problem with me. Trying to overcome the dark cloud from the curse. lol I could write a book on how many times I help those that seemed to need it. But I loved your statement I" swear it runs in my blood. I remember my mother writing letters to the editor when I was a youngster, and it embarrassed the hell out of me. Now I'm as Bat-Shidt Goofy as I swear I thought she was. Must say she was a real champion for the 'Under-Dog' - and was always dragging some poor 'Unfortunate' home to help them. It drove my father up a wall - but I'm sure there's a special place in heaven for her." My son checked on line and said Mom gosh are you opinionated Yep I said. What is wrong with that, he is a bit that way himself, sounds familiar does it. HAPPY TRAILS.

RONALD RIML's picture

Thank God for Omar, Catherine as you finally have someone

to feel superior to.

Knowing now that's what it's all about for you.... ;)

Catherine Pressey's picture

Do you or did you really think:

FIRST OF ALL to feel superior to/ put one self above others is not my game. Or way of thinking what you fail to see Ronald Riml is that Omar is the one with the chip on his shoulder and does not understand we all living here in this country have these issues in employment. Nothing to do with race all to do with employers and corporations not wanting to be either bothered or responsible for the injuries of said workers. Maybe I need to re-read some of my post to try to understand how you think that I place myself above this person, and he is a person. And in my opinion with a chip on his shoulder, he just does not get it he is in America now and this sh--- happens all the time to all Americans period. Red yellow black and white as Roy Rogers song goes Jesus love the little children of the world. And here in our great country corporations use the workers and do as they will with them. HAPPY TRAILS RONALD OH yeh! if I do feel superior to anyone it could be you, dear American, or not so dear. lol

RONALD RIML's picture

I wrote that before I got my ass reamed out....

And cleared me head - Catherine. LOL

Catherine Pressey's picture

Yes! I tried to watch times:

Yes! I had not read this post before our latest comments to each other, lol and since I am a wee bit confused lost in this world of the internet, I hardly remember what I may have said that prompted your comment. Or what my garbled comment may have been fragmented, and confusing.

RONALD RIML's picture

If you claim 'Conversing with me is pointless'

Why do you do it? Are you THAT stupid?? I certainly tend to believe you are. You're postings so indicate it.

Advertisement

Stay informed — Get the news delivered for free in your inbox.

I'm interested in ...