DETROIT – A federal jury in the Eastern District of Michigan has found in favor of former Ford engineer Faisal G. Khalaf, ruling that his superiors discriminated against him — based on his heritage and accent— and fired him after he’d attempted to come forward about what had happened to him.
Khalaf, who was awarded $16.8 million in the March 28 ruling, was born in Lebanon and had been working at Ford since 1999.
Carol Laughbaum of Sterling Attorneys at Law represented him.
“There was a high-level executive at Ford Motor Co. that my client reported to … that would berate him and criticize him week after week about his English,” Laughbaum said. “It wasn’t a matter of ‘Please, can you repeat this?’ but ‘What is wrong with you? Why don’t you understand this?’”
Supervisors Bennie Fowler and Jay Zhou were found to have harassed Khalaf since 2012.
Representatives at Ford do not agree with the verdict.
“We don’t believe that the facts in this case support the verdict,” Brad Carroll, corporate communications manager for Ford, said in a statement. “Ford is committed to creating an environment that promotes diversity and inclusion within our workforce and communities. The diverse backgrounds of our employees truly make us a stronger company and we are extremely proud of our policies and programs that support equality.”