- Associated Press - Saturday, June 21, 2014

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - A Kentucky man of Arab descent has sued an auto dealership where he used to work, claiming a co-worker wore a turban and fake bomb vest as part of a stunt to humiliate him soon after the Boston Marathon bombing.

Easa Shadeh contends the co-worker pretended to make bombs and told him that “your people” were responsible for the 2013 bombing that killed three people and injured about 260 others.

Shadeh, a U.S. citizen who lives in Lexington, Kentucky, said in a statement that the co-worker failed to realize that “my people are also his people: Americans.”

“My grandfather served in World War I and I’ve lived in this country my entire life,” Shadeh said.

The stunt in late April 2013 occurred in front of multiple employees and managers at the dealership, according to the federal lawsuit, filed recently in U.S. District Court in Lexington.

The suit names Glenn Buick-GMC Trucks as the defendant.

Shadeh later was fired from his job as sales manager, the suit said. The co-worker was transferred to another building after the stunt, but transferred back soon after Shadeh was let go, it said.

The suit seeks back pay along with unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.

The co-worker was not named as a defendant. That’s because the federal anti-discrimination law cited as being broken in this case does not allow a plaintiff to sue an individual, said Michael Hanna, a civil-rights attorney representing Shadeh.

The dealership has denied the claims and said that all decisions made in regards to Shadeh’s employment were based on “legitimate business considerations.”

Barbara Kriz, an attorney for the dealership, did not immediately respond to an email Saturday seeking comment. She told the Lexington Herald-Leader the dealership does not tolerate discrimination and that a review indicated Shadeh and the co-worker regularly exchanged practical jokes and at times called each other inappropriate names. Both received warning letters, she told the paper.

Shadeh, 44, began working as a sales manager at the dealership in early 2012. He was let go soon after the incident in the spring of 2013. The father of four is currently not working but has sent out numerous applications in hopes of landing another auto sales job, Hanna said Saturday.

Shadeh’s suit said he was called “camel jockey” at work and subjected to humiliating ethnic jokes. He complained to his supervisors about the behavior but nothing was done to stop the actions, it said.

“I couldn’t believe it,” Shadeh said in his statement. “I lost my job because someone came to work dressed like a carton terrorist, discriminated against me and said it was ‘my people’ who did this.”

Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev lived in the former Soviet republic of Kyrgyzstan and later in Russia before moving to the U.S. at age 8 with his parents and siblings. Tsarnaev was granted asylum and became a naturalized U.S. citizen, about seven months before the bombing.

Prosecutors say Tsarnaev and his brother Tamerlan Tsarnaev planted two bombs that exploded near the finish line of the 2013 Marathon. Tamerlan Tsarnaev died following a shootout with police several days later.

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