Lebanon-born Faisal Khalaf, a former engineer for Ford Motor Company, could be awarded as much as $16.8 million for discrimination he allegedly faced while working for the global automaker. The amount was proposed by a jury in U.S. District Court last week, Automotive News reports, and includes $15 million in punitive damages, $1.7 million to cover losses to pension and retirement, and $100,000 to cover emotional distress.
Faisal Khalaf first filed a suit against Ford Motor Company in 2015, saying that he faced years of harassment from two of his supervisors over his Arabic descent. Notably, Ford’s then-Group VP of Quality and New Model Launches Bennie Fowler allegedly gave “regular and frequent unwarranted criticism and hostility with regard to [Khalaf’s] ability to speak and understand English,” according to court documents. Later, after being assigned to work under Executive Technical Leader in Quality Jay Zhou, it didn’t stop, and after Khalaf filed an HR complaint in 2014, he was allegedly given low-level tasks and threatened with a “career transition plan”.
Khalaf’s suit says that he was forced to take medical leave in June, 2014 due to stress he faced in the workplace, and by September, 2015, he was fired.
Ford objects to the jury’s decision that Faisal Khalaf was indeed subjected to workplace hostility because of his race, with company spokesperson Brad Carroll saying: “We don’t believe that the facts in this case support the verdict. Ford is committed to creating an environment that promotes diversity and inclusion within our workforce and communities. The diverse backgrounds of our employees truly make us a stronger company and we are extremely proud of our policies and programs that support equality. We are currently assessing our options to get this verdict corrected.”