A suburban Philadelphia man of Jordanian nationality has filed a civil rights action
against the popular convenience store chain Wawa over claims that his firing was likely discriminatory in nature.
Khalid Alamari, who lives in Montgomery County, filed suit July 24 in federal court in Philadelphia against Wawa Inc., which is headquartered in the Pennsylvania town of the same name, over allegations that his employment was terminated after just over three years on the job for reasons that may have been related to his ethnicity.
The plaintiff, who got his start with Wawa working at its Roslyn, Pa. location, but later became an assistant general manager at a Wawa store in Churchville, Bucks County, was fired on Feb. 1, 2012, the record shows, reportedly because he had been removing discarded items from the store’s outdoor dumpster after the store was closed.
Alamari said he had been unaware his actions were a violation of company policy, and further explained that he intended to give the unused discarded items to a local Iraqi refugee family that has a difficult time making ends meet, the lawsuit states.
Nevertheless, Wawa decided to terminate the plaintiff’s employment despite the man’s “excellent record, the fact that it was his first offense and despite his explanations,” the complaint reads.
At the same time, other Wawa employees not of Middle Eastern descent have been allowed to remain working for the company despite more significant workplace violations.
The complaint also states that Alamari was never promoted to the position of general manager despite being qualified to hold the rank, and having secured “excellent recommendations” by colleagues and having displayed a more-than-satisfactory work history.
The suit says that throughout his three-plus years of employment with Wawa, the plaintiff never received any disciplinary actions until his termination.
One alleged discriminatory act described in the complaint was perpetrated by an area manager identified as Tom Hasiak, who once told Alamari that he was going to be transferred to a Bucks County store because he would be working under “someone who can understand you.”
Hasiak was referring to the general manager at that other location, who is believed to be of Syrian descent.
The transfer, the complaint alleges, was done in response to Alamari’s complaints about consistently being given the night shift at the Roslyn store.
Wawa is accused of violating the Civil Rights Act and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act.
“Defendant has discriminated against plaintiff in the terms and conditions of plaintiff’s employment because of plaintiff’s national origin,” the suit reads. “The Defendant terminated the plaintiff, who is of Jordanian national origin, despite not terminating or even disciplining similarly situated individuals that did not have a national origin of Middle Eastern descent that committed equivalent or worse infractions.”
Alamari seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages, in addition to interest, costs and attorney’s fees.
The lawsuit was filed by Glenside, Pa. attorney Gerald R. Clarke.
The federal case number is 2:13-cv-04280-LDD.