Jackpot: Mich. Muslim Awarded $1.2 M Over Beard


Washtenaw County is appealing a discrimination lawsuit in which they were ordered to pay $1.2 million to a Muslim man who says he was unfairly passed over for a promotion and called a terrorist.

Ali Aboubaker, 56, of Ypsilanti, said he was denied an opportunity to interview for the Entry Level Drain Inspector Position because of his “race, national origin, or religion.”

A U.S. District Court jury awarded Aboubaker $1.2 million due to lost wages and other damages.

One of the attorneys for the county, Thomas Wurst, confirmed they were planning an appeal but declined to elaborate.

“I would prefer not to comment at this time,” said Wurst, an attorney with the law firm Miller and Johnson in Grand Rapids. “We are proceeding with an appeal as we believe the verdict is inconsistent with the facts and contrary to law.”

Wurst would not go into any further detail, but usually within a year, an appeal is heard at the next level.

According to court documents, the jury also found that Washtenaw County acted with malice or reckless indifference to Aboubaker’s rights by denying him an opportunity to interview for the drain inspector position.

Also according to court documents, the award included actual damages of wages ($321,490.13), future wages ($614,028.97), and other damages ($250,000), including damages arising out of future pecuniary losses, emotional pain, suffering, inconvenience, mental anguish, loss of enjoyment of life, and other non-pecuniary losses.

“It was a record based on recent memory,” said Shareef Akeel, the lawyer for Aboubaker, with the law firm Akeel and Valentine in Troy. “We were all stunned. But the jury saw the terrible wrong the county committed.”

Akeel said they are in the process of filing for further awards as well.

“The jury saw a true, sincere, humble man that had a strong work ethic, but that was terribly wronged by the county,” said Akeel. “We have now filed for prejudgment interest of $160,000, and attorney fees for $109,000 as allowed under federal law. These motions are pending. So in total, the county may end up paying in excess of $1.4 million.”

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