Ali Aboubaker says he was discriminated against by his employer has won a major lawsuit. He says he was fired from his job because of discrimination, and it turned his life upside-down. Now he's being awarded more than one million dollars.
The defended in the case is Washtenaw County, which hired the man and later fired him. His lawsuit alleges that other county workers mistreated him because of his race and religion.
Aboubaker is a Muslim from Tunisia and maintenance worker for Washtenaw County until he was fired. His lawyer, Shereef Akeel, says a federal jury concluded that he was a victim of discrimination on the job.
"You look past that, you look past all of the strikes against him, his race and his name and his beard and his ethnicity," Akeel said.
Aboubaker had worked for the county since 1991, but alleged in the lawsuit that his coworkers and superiors treated him differently after September 11, 2001.
"He started getting the name-calling and started being called names that really were uncalled for," Akeel said. "Like terrorist and things of that nature."
He also said that his bosses tried to interfere with his midday prayer time and with worship on Friday. he was passed over for promotions and fired in 2008, accused of insubordination.
"It left him homeless, he was destitute," Akeel said.
During the two-week trial, witnesses for the county denied the charge of name-calling and that bias was the reason he couldn't advance. But the jury of six whites and one African American sided with Aboubaker.
"You could see him, he was tearing up, he wanted to kind of hide those tears away," Akeel said. "And then he made a nice quote: 'this is the America I know.'"
The award is for nearly 1.2 million dollars. There is no word on whether the verdict will be appealed.