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

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

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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

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