El-Hakem v. BJY, Inc., 415 F.3d 1068 (9th Cir. 2005)

Mamdouh El-Hakem sued his employer, BJY, Inc., and its CEO for employment discrimination and wrongful termination arising from the CEO’s repeated references to him as “Manny” (over the employee’s objection). The CEO contended that a “Western” name would increase El-Hakem’s chances for success and would be more acceptable to BJY’s clientele. The Ninth Circuit affirmed the judgment (following a jury trial) in favor of El-Hakem on the ground that although the CEO’s conduct was not especially severe, there was “unrefuted evidence of its frequency and pervasiveness,” thus creating a “work environment racially hostile to a reasonable Arab.” The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court’s judgment holding BJY liable for the CEO’s actions on the ground that the CEO had been acting in the scope of his employment at all pertinent times. Cf. Galdamez v. Potter, 415 F.3d 1015 (9th Cir. 2005) (employer may be liable for failing to investigate and remedy harassment of employee by customers).