Waldorf Astoria 'name change' lawsuit

May 1, 2011 3:53:38 PM PDT
It is the most common first name in the world, Mohammed.

But when management at a New York luxury hotel asked an employee to go by another name, the long-time waiter objected and filed a discrimination lawsuit.

What's in a name? Well, potentially millions, if it's Mohammed and your work won't let you use your Arabic name because they think it'll scare people.

He was Edgar when we interviewed him on Sunday.

Mohammed Kotbi has been a waiter at the famed Waldorf Astoria for 27 years.

He says it is a career he loves.

But after 9/11 his name has been a source of conflict and problems at the hotel.

He claims his boss makes him wear different name tags.

The first time was two days after the World Trade Center bombing, he says he was told to be John at a memorial service.

"It said John. He said, 'it's a memorial. we don't want to scare people'. I was in shock," Kotbi said.

But time hasn't healed the name issue.

Almost ten years later, Mohammed says they still give him grief especially when hosting a Jewish event.

"One of my supervisors. I'm trying to see my assignment said, 'Get out of here, don't need a terrorist. this is a kosher event'," Kotbi alleges.

His attorney Johnathan Bell said, "This is a raw case of discrimination."

Most recently, Mohammed says they let him use his last name Kotbi but everyone else goes by their first name.

He is now suing the Waldorf Astoria so that he can be like every other Tom, Dick and Harry and have the right to be called Mohammed.

A spokesperson for the hotel said, "We cannot comment on matters of pending litigation."