New York National Origin Discrimination Case against D.O.E. Will Not Go Forward

On May 25th, the New York Times reported that former Arabic language school principal Debbie Almontaser will not file a New York national origin discrimination case against the Department of Education (D.O.E.), despite a Federal Commission’s ruling early this year that the D.O.E. had discriminated against her in 2007 by forcing her to resign from her position.

As this blog reported several months ago, Ms. Almontaser had come under fire from the D.O.E. after allegations emerged that she provided support to a group of Arabic women who sold shirts featuring the slogan “Intifada NYC.” Ms. Almontaser defended herself in an interview with the New York Post, but the Post allegedly misrepresented what she said in that interview, and the distorted article catalyzed the D.O.E. to take action against her. The Federal Commission found that Ms. Almontaser (who is of Yemeni descent) fell victim to “the very bias that the creation of her school was intended to dispel.”

Although many New York national origin discrimination analysts have argued that the ex-principal would have substantial grounds to sue the D.O.E., the former principal decided after consulting with her attorney to forego a suit because, per the New York Times, “there would be too much emotional pain to pursue it.” Ms. Almontaser released a public statement: “…additional litigation of the discrimination claim would mean reliving the unfortunate and painful events…it was time for me to move on in my professional and personal life.”

Ms. Almontaser’s treatment by the press and the D.O.E. sparked an avalanche of hotheaded debate in the media and blogosphere, in part because New York collectively is still trying to work through the emotional fallout of the World Trade Center attacks of September 11, 2001.

If you or a person about whom you care has been discriminated against at work on the basis of national origin, race or any other factor, you may have substantial legal recourse to stop inappropriate behavior and seek compensatory damages, including wages lost and opportunities for promotion illegally taken away.

How do you know whether you have a case? The best way is to consult with a results-proven, reliable New York City employment rights attorney. Call the lawyers of Joseph & Kirschenbaum ASAP at (212) 688-5640, or visit us on the web at, to explore your legal options to find a better solution and peace of mind.

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