Fired employee sues Rivers Casino, charges discrimination

Woman says hostile treatment centered on her Muslim faith
The entrance to the Rivers Casino & Resort.
The entrance to the Rivers Casino & Resort.

SCHENECTADY — A former employee of Rivers Casino & Resort is suing the casino and several supervisors there, alleging she was harassed because of her Muslim faith and then unfairly fired after complaining about the harassment.

The case was filed Tuesday in state Supreme Court in Schenectady County by Shegerian & Associates law firm on behalf of Roma Spady. The suit seeks unspecified damages.

A spokesman for Rivers said Thursday the casino would not comment on pending litigation. Henderson did not return a request for comment.

The lawsuit targets Rivers, its corporate owners and five unidentified people who work at Rivers as supervisors or human resources managers.

It contains the following assertions and allegations:

  • Spady was hired on or around June 11, 2017, as an environmental service worker, responsible for housekeeping duties. She was diligent and hard-working and never received a write-up.
  • Spady’s circumstances changed in June 2018, when she was transferred to work under the supervision of Jim Doe, a 40-something white man and self-proclaimed redneck.
  • Spady, a devout Muslim, wore her hijab to work every day. Jim asked her if she wasn’t hot in the hijab and mocked Muslim prayer practices in front of her co-workers. 
  • Jim was insensitive about her need for flexible lunch breaks during Ramadan, the month-long period of daylight fasting, when she might need to break the fast and eat at any time, as she wasn’t feeling well.
  • Jim became agitated when Spady asked to be off on Eid — the day of prayer, feast and charity that marks the end of Ramadan — to eat dinner with her family, saying “I don’t know about this Muslim thing.”
  • Spady’s complaints to other supervisors accomplished nothing except increasing Jim’s hostility toward her.
  • Around June 15, Spady filed an internal written complaint about religious discrimination and, upon prompting, wrote an additional complaint about Jim’s derogatory language toward women.
  • On or around July 4, Spady and Jim got into an argument in which she yelled, waved her hands at him and told him to leave her alone. Another of the unnamed defendants, Tom Doe, sent her home and told her not to return until she heard from him.
  • On July 6, Tom notified her she was terminated.
  • The termination was in part due to her protected status (examples of which include religion, race, color, national origin, sex and good-faith complaints).
  • As a result, she has lost past and future income and suffered damage to her career, as well as psychological and emotional distress and humiliation.
  • All defendants compelled, coerced, aided and/or abetted the discrimination, retaliation and harassment in violation of federal and state law.
  • The defendants’ conduct was outrageous and malicious and was performed with evil motives to injure Spady.

Around Nov. 15, Spady filed a discrimination charge with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which in December issued her a notice of right to sue.

Spady seeks economic, non-economic, compensatory and punitive damages, as well as interest, attorneys’ fees and other costs.

Categories: Business, News, Schenectady County

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