Sierra Pacific settles suit

Norhtstate Timber company sued for worker harassment

Anderson-based Sierra Pacific Industries, the timber company that is largest private landowner in California, will pay $95,000 to settle a discrimination lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

As the CN&R reported in its Sept. 11, 2008, issue, the suit charged that, following 9/11, SPI allowed workers to harass Ahmed Elshenawy, an employee of Egyptian heritage at its Red Bluff plant. The coworkers called him such epithets as “Osama,” “Saddam” and “sand jockey.” Not only did the company not help him after he complained, it retaliated by subjecting him to harsher discipline, finally terminating him in 2004.

The settlement allows SPI to admit no guilt but also requires it to take several steps to forestall further harassment.

In January 2009, SPI paid a former employee at its Oroville plant $110,000 to settle a similar EEOC discrimination suit. In that case, the company allegedly discriminated against the plaintiff because of his religious beliefs.