A growing number of Muslims were reporting discrimination in the workplace even before the so-called “Ground Zero mosque” hysteria swept the country, the New York Times reports. In the year that ended last September, 803 Muslims filed federal complaints, with many alleging that co-workers had called them “Osama” or “terrorist.” That’s a 20% increase from 2008, and a 60% bump since 2005.
There’s no official data on this year yet, but Islamic groups say they’ve seen a huge surge in complaints. And the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has found enough merit in several of the complaints to file lawsuits on workers’ behalf. Last month, for example, it sued meatpacker JBS Swift on behalf of 160 Somali immigrants, alleging that supervisors and workers had cursed them for being Muslim, interrupted their prayer breaks, and thrown blood and bones at them.