Two years ago, Faisal Khalaf, who is of Lebanese descent, won a lawsuit against Ford Motor Company following an 11 day jury trial in the Eastern District of Michigan. Khalaf was an engineer who worked for the company for 15 years, but argued that he faced discrimination on a daily basis. After reporting these many transgressions to human resources, Khalaf says he was subsequently demoted and fired. He later filed the Ford discrimination lawsuit.
Khalaf asserted that he was criticized for his accent and expected to fetch coffee for his supervisors, among other concerns. The jury agreed with his claims, and awarded him $1.7 million in pension and retirement losses, $100,000 in emotional distress damages, and $15 million in punitive damages. Ford appealed the decision, however, and it has now been reversed by three judges in the U.S. Court of Appeals, which concluded that the lower court made an error.
The court found that there was “insufficient evidence” to support the jury’s decision because Khalaf was given the option to take another position within Ford prior to his termination. He also left the automaker only to take a higher paying position at another company.
Judges noted that Khalaf could have argued that his firing was a constructive discharge, meaning he resigned because the employer creating a hostile work environment, but that theory was not presented in court.
FoMoCo said that the unanimous ruling “completely vindicates” the automaker and the employees named in the Ford discrimination lawsuit. It also noted that it “has always maintained that the jury’s verdict was deeply flawed and unjust.” The two supervisors accused of the discriminatory behavior have since retired.
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