The Job From Hell

Somali workers complained about racism at a local car-rental agency--and got canned on the spot

In the aftermath of the alleged assault, Ahmed Mohamed recalls, the maintenance facility was a powder keg: Though Gloud purportedly received a three-day suspension, he was later promoted to assistant manager, which placed him in a position of power over Somali employees with more seniority. Nur and Mohamed, who were both supervisors at the time, say their repeated complaints to management about Gloud's behavior fell on deaf ears.

On August 9 of last year, the tension that had been building for months at the maintenance center boiled over. A group of Somali employees gathered to voice their dissatisfaction to management. Their bosses' response, according to the workers' lawsuit, was to fire all of them on the spot. (The lawsuit also alleges that several Somali employees who were not present at the time were fired in a mass termination of "all Somalis" who worked at the center.)

According to a police incident report from August 9, the rental-car facility's production manager, Roger Sorenson, called airport police and requested that the Somalis be escorted off the property. "Sorenson related that the group (about 25-30 people) refused to work today," wrote the officer who responded to the call. "Sorenson said he had told them that if they refused to work that they would be terminated. Sorenson said the group refused to work and he had informed them that they were terminated. Sorenson also related to officers that he wanted the group to leave the area immediately." (Sorenson, like Gloud, is no longer with the maintenance center and could not be located for comment.)

Mohamed and his fellow workers were then summarily evicted from the premises and herded onto a shuttle bus, which took them to the Mall of America and dropped them off. Though he has since found work as a cabdriver, Mohamed says he's still somewhat shell-shocked by how quickly his fortunes turned. "I was sitting around for a long time," he says, shaking his head. "I didn't believe I could lose my job that easily after five years."

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