A New York City man who was bullied and punched by his coworker for being named Osama was awarded $4.7 million in Brooklyn Federal Court on Friday.
Osama Saleh, 27, says a coworker repeatedly called him “Bin Laden” and “terrorist” and eventually knocked him out. Saleh claimed his bosses at a Brooklyn women’s clothing store did not to stop the taunts he received from black security guard James Robinson.
“Being called a terrorist and Bin Laden is like an insult and a slur against me and my race,” Saleh told the Daily News after the court verdict Friday.
“That level of disregard is so dangerous in a multicultural society,” said Saleh’s lawyer Fred Brewington.
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According to Saleh, Robinson ranted about hating Arabs and said they were “dirty.” He allegedly told Saleh he should go back to Yemen.
Robinson pleaded guilty to assault after he attacked Saleh in the basement of the store in September 2007. Saleh suffered a fractured cheek bone. He says he still suffers hearing problems and difficulty chewing as a result of the hit.
During the attack Robinson allegedly told Saleh, “I'm going to call the police on you, telling them that you don't have papers and you are a terror [sic].”
The managers at the store, Pretty Girl, ignored his complaints about Robinson, insisted the guard was only joking and that he hadn’t violated the company’s code of conduct.
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“It’s not a bad name, it’s a name. They were teasing each other by calling the names. They’re playing,” the store’s vice president Victor Lavy testified in federal court.
The $4.7 million award covers emotional distress, assault, punitive damages and negligence in the hiring of Robinson.