A former Kansas City woman who converted to Islam in 2005 said she was harassed for years at AT&T, and that the abuse boiled over in 2008 when her boss snatched her head scarf and exposed her hair. With that incident now being handled in a court of law, a Jackson County jury on Thursday awarded Susann Bashir five million dollars in punitive damages in her discrimination lawsuit, along with $120,000 in lost wages and other actual damages. The award appears to be the largest jury verdict for a workplace discrimination case in Missouri history.
Bashir said in court documents that her work environment became hostile immediately after she converted, with her co-workers making offensive comments about her religion and referring to her hijab as "that thing on her head." "Nobody ever cared what I wore before," Bashir told the Kansas City Star. "Nobody ever cared what religion I was before." In addition to being called a "towel-head" and a terrorist, Bashir endured religious discrimination nearly every day of the final three years she worked there, including being asked if she was going to blow up the building.