DALLAS (CN) - Four managers claim in Federal Court that the International House of Pancakes and a Dallas-area franchisee fired them because of their Arab ethnicity and Muslim religion.
Lead plaintiff Hussein Chamseddine claims Glendale, Calif.-based IHOP and Coppell-based Anthraper Investments wrongfully fired him and three other longtime employees - Rami Saleh, Brandon Adam and Chekri Bakro - in a span of 10 months and replaced them with white, non-Muslim employees, though all four plaintiffs repeatedly received good performance reviews.
The men claim IHOP disregarded its own four-step disciplinary procedures in firing them and that white, non-Muslim employees who were disciplined under the system were not fired.
Chamseddine, a district manager who oversaw all four of Anthraper's franchises, said a supervisor compared Muslims breaking their Ramadan fast to "dogs waiting for their meal."
Dogs are considered unclean in Islam.
Chamseddine claims that his replacement, (nonparty) Larry Hawker, told 20 managers at a March 2010 meeting that "Arab men treat women poorly and with disrespect[;] we're going to let these people go and have new faces coming in."
Saleh, general manager of an Arlington outlet, said he heard the comments at the meeting and was fired weeks later because of an alleged incident with a female employee. Saleh claims Hawker fired him on the spot, in violation of IHOP disciplinary procedures and despite never having received any verbal or written warnings on his job performance.
Adam, manager of a Plano outlet, said Hawker fired him for "computer use," which was a requirement of his job.
Bakro, manager of a Fort Worth location, said he was fired for allegedly poor performance. He claims Hawker asked employees to write "false statements" about him to justify his firing.
IHOP operates 1,550 outlets in North America, including 36 franchises in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, according to the complaint.
The plaintiffs seek damages for employment discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Section 1981 of the Civil Rights Act of 1991 and the Texas Labor Code. They are represented by Jay Ellwanger with DiNovo, Price, Ellwanger and Hardy.