The Effects of 9/11 and Terrorism on Human Resource Management

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September 11, 2001 was a day that will forever reside in the collective memory of the world. On that fateful morning, 19 terrorists who were in affiliation with Osama Bin Laden's al-Qaeda terror organization hijacked four planes. The hijackers crashed two American Airlines jets into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City, A third plane into the Pentagon in Washington, D.C and a fourth crash landed in Pennsylvania as passengers attempted to take control of the plane. Nearly 3000 people died as a result of the attacks. In response to the attacks, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) , led by the United States, invaded the country of Afghanistan in October 2001 followed by the United States' invasion of Iraq on March 20, 2003. However, as a result of the attacks, the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, and the brutal and gruesome insurgencies that have followed the invasions worldwide, there has been a tide of hatred stemmed towards those of Middle Eastern descent, the Islamic faith, and those who have been mistaken to be Muslims (e.g. Sikhs). This hatred has purveyed itself into the practices of Human Resources, through the fears and angers of and misconceptions and misunderstandings by employers and coworkers. This allowed discrimination to enter many organizations and as a result many bodies had to examine the state of Human Resources and set forth guidelines to ensure that discrimination was eliminated. Due to the emotional impact of the 9/11 attacks on the United States, there was a sense of fear amongst many citizens, which culminated in high levels of discriminatory actions towards peoples who were Muslim or resembled or were mistaken to be Muslim. This was further perpetrated by employers throughout the country. As a result, the Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights directed the Civil Rights Division's National Origin Working Group to work proactively to combat violations of civil rights laws by those employers. The effects of discrimination were heavily reflected within the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission legislation. From September 11, 2001 to September 10, 2002, the EEOC received 706 claims of discrimination based on their Islamic religion, more than double the 323 claims from the same time period the year before. Also between September 11, 2001, and September 10, 2002, 654 charges were filed under Title VII with Process Type Z, the designation given to cases involving charges from individuals who are - or are perceived to be - Muslim, Arab, Afghani, Middle Eastern or South Asian or individuals alleging retaliation related to the events of September 11, 2001. According to the EEOC, these charges were filed against employers in a wide range of industries throughout the United States. Of the 654 charges filed, discharge was an issue in 406 charges, and harassment was an issue in 271 charges. 60 individuals received almost $680,000 in monetary benefits through the efforts of the EEOC as a result of their discrimination by their employers. Some of the post 9/11 cases taken by the EEOC were: •A lawsuit alleging the New York Plaza hotel and Fairmont Hotel Management discriminated against Muslim, Arab and South Asian employees was settled last month for $525,000. A 2001 lawsuit claimed that Plaza employees were called "terrorist," "Taliban" and "dumb Muslim." It also alleges that managers wrote "Osama" and "Taliban" instead of employees' names on key holders. Fairmont Hotel Management managed the hotel, which has since been sold. "As a company, we are committed to providing a work environment free of discrimination or harassment," says Carolyn Clark, senior vice president of human resources at Fairmont, in Toronto. •In March, upscale seafood restaurant Pesce agreed to pay $150,000 to settle a lawsuit alleging bias against the store's general manager. According to the lawsuit, a former co-owner openly speculated that the manager's Egyptian name and appearance were the...
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