Mohamed Kotbi, Waldorf Astoria Waiter, Forced to Change Name, Sues Hotel

Posted May 3rd 2011 09:45 AMUpdated May 3rd 2011 01:14 PM


Waldorf Astoria Waiter 'Mohamed' Forced to Change his Name, Sues Hotel

guille78, flickr

A North African waiter at New York's Waldorf Astoria was forced by hotel management to change his name multiple times to keep him from scaring guests.

Mohamed Kotbi, a Moroccan-born banquet waiter, had worked at the famous hotel since 1984. But, two days after the September 11 attacks he was asked to don a nametag with a new alias – John.

The measure, he was told by hotel management, was to prevent him from frightening guests.

"I put it on. I was in shock," Kotbi told the New York Post.

He filed discrimination complaints with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in 2005 and 2009. He was eventually given a name tag bearing his last name, but his trouble didn't stop there.

This past November, Kotbi was again asked to change his name, and was given a nametag reading "Edgar." He was reportedly told by hotel management: "It's better to be Edgar than Mohamed today."

Kotbi is now suing the Waldorf for religious and racial discrimination. He is claiming the hotel's work environment was "hostile," not only because of the name changes, but because it did nothing to keep co-workers from tormenting him.

According to his suit, other Waldorf staff called Kotbi names like "terrorist" and "al Qaeda boy."

In a statement to USA TODAY, Hilton hotels said "the Waldorf has more than 1,600 employees 'representing six continents around the world and operates a non-discriminatory hiring policy'."

Filed Under: News, Hotel

Add a Comment

*0 / 3000 Character Maximum


Filter by:

The Waldorf Astoria is one of the top luxury hotel in NYC. This place is so clean and spacious room hotel. I want to try again the Body Treatment here, it so relaxing..I can spend a time for vacation here again...

Boracay Philippines

May 12 2011 at 1:10 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Until this is settled amicably, Hilton Hotels have lost my business.

May 09 2011 at 10:42 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

When I was sending out resumes, I had to stop using my first name just to get a callback. As upsetting as it is to hear about this type of discrimination, this is how our world works. The US is a great place to live but it is not perfect. You have to take the the good with the bad.

sux tho

May 09 2011 at 11:42 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

That's really crazy. It is his name, not a political statement. And it's a very common name too. The hotel management needs to respect their workers, whatever their names. Asking him to display a name not his own was disrespectful.

May 04 2011 at 1:22 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Scaring the guests in what way? If his name was Jack, or Edward, or Charles or Aileen I guess the guests would feel much safer, eh?

Here are the names of the top 12 serial killers:

1. Jack The Ripper 1888 [England]
2.Ed Gein 1954-1957 [US of A }
3. Charles Manson 1969 [US of A ]
4. Ted Bundy 1974-1978 [US of A ]
5. David Berkowitz 'Son of Sam' 1976 [US of A ]
6. John Wayne Gacy 1972-1978 [US of A ]
7. Aileen Wuornos 1989-1992 [US of A ]
8. Gary Ridgway 1982-1998 [US of A ]
9. Albert Fisher 1919-1930 [US of A]
10. Jeffrey Dahmer 1978-1991 [US of A ]
11.Robert Pickton 1980's [Canada ]
12 . Coral Eugene Watts 1974-1982 [US of A]

Interesting statistic....Not a Mohamed Kotbi in the bunch.

The list is made up of 10 WHITE MEN.

One WHITE WOMAN. And One American Negro.

One Canadian.

One Englishman.

10 Americans...all serial killers, go figure, eh?

Not one African in the bunch either.

I think the guests need to get over themselves.


May 03 2011 at 7:43 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to HsouixZ's comment

one name-Mohammed atta- responsible for over 3000 Americans slaughtered in a few hours time- I believe that trumps your list of irrelevance- and that is just ONE *********- if this guy had it so bad- find other employment!

May 04 2011 at 5:17 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to tom's comment

you are a damn fool

May 06 2011 at 3:47 PM Report abuse rate up rate down

Whats so sad is that the world is a much more hateful place 10 years after 9/11. It looks like bin laden got what he wanted.

May 03 2011 at 5:37 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

It's a little strange that Obama shouts with glee that he was the mastermind behind Osama Bin Laden's assassination, and under the same breath, Obama praised Muslims are just like you and me. Did anyone not feel something wrong with that statement?

May 03 2011 at 3:28 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
5 replies to Sharonlynn's comment

Mohammads are the ones involved with killing Americans and wanting to blow us up so too damned bad if "Mohammad" can't understand that. Go back to the country you vacated from Mohammad. You don't like Americans and Western Ideology, American Rules, than go back to the caves you came out of.

May 03 2011 at 3:25 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
5 replies to Sharonlynn's comment

There's a difference between asking someone to change their name to protect themselves from the illogical harassment of the narrow-minded bigots that can't separate the acts of a few from the practices of the many. It's another thing when that same company tells an individual that he must wear another name to "keep from scaring guests", thus protecting the company from a loss of revenue. The above story isn't clear enough on either point for me to determine which side is "right."

None of us know the whole story. Please try to keep that in mind.

May 03 2011 at 2:58 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

why is it that the above establishment is racist.....but the comments made here about old white people are not? =o/ Just really trying to see a difference......

May 03 2011 at 2:25 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply