The Importance of Being Edgar: Waldorf-Astoria Sued Over Forced Name Change of Muslim Waiter

Muhammad is the most common given name in the world with more than 150 million men and boys with the name. Including Mohamed Kotbi, a waiter at the Waldorf-Astoria. The famed hotel is being sued by the former banquet waiter after he was allegedly told to wear name tags reading Edgar or John because customers would be afraid of a waiter named Mohamed.

Kotbi was first allegedly told to adopt a new name two days after September 11th. He states in his complaint that he was told “[w]e don’t want to scare our guests.”

He says that, after filing discrimination complaints with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, he was given a name tag with his last name, Kotbi. He claims, however, that he was then turned into an “Edgar” by the restaurant.

He is now suing for “hostile work environment” over the name tags. With the death of Bin Laden announced today, perhaps some perspective will be gained in looking back at our actions following September 11th. This story is one glimpse of the intense hostility faced by Muslims in this country.

He is, of course, not the first to face a backlash over his name. Below is “Edgar” Ali:

Source: New York Post

24 thoughts on “The Importance of Being Edgar: Waldorf-Astoria Sued Over Forced Name Change of Muslim Waiter

  1. Anybody who is afraid of a waiter because his name is Mohammad should probably stay home.

    Any employer who needlessly insults an employee over such a stupid reason needs to refocus his priorities.

  2. “Edgar” Kotbi is a totally unbelievable name. Totally stupid. Nobody would believe that in a million years. Ridiculous.

    They should have called him “J. Edgar Hoover”.

  3. Not bad for a family that was not accepted in NY City Society and tore down the Brownstone built a hotel to get back at them….

  4. “With the death of Bin Laden announced today, perhaps some perspective will be gained in looking back at our actions following September 11th. This story is one glimpse of the intense hostility faced by Muslims in this country.” -Jonathan Turley

    Perhaps a starting point would be the Patriot Act.

  5. I am totally with HenMan on this one. The stupidity exhibited in this country will never cease to amaze me …

  6. Professor,

    How apt that you included Mohamed Ali’s picture in this post. How quickly has it become forgotten that the man who is considered a national icon and treasure was despised, harassed and punished in his career, for becoming a Muslim and opposing the Viet Nam War.
    As time goes by historical pariahs oft become heroes.

  7. Muhammad isn’t exactly an uncommon name in NYC. I’ve stayed at the Waldorf and most of it operates as a typical business hotel, albeit one with nice public areas. Their clients are unlikely to have the delicate sensibilities of their management.

  8. AY,

    Personally I liked the stop-motion animation elf. That Keebler one is kinda small. If I didn’t know that was a hole in a tree, I wouldn’t be able to tell what that was.

  9. If you think Muhammed or Hussein is scary… consider Bush, Cheney or Blair.

    Wouldn’t want to start making too much sense to anyone, but if you’re going to fear anything it’s clear that you may start with US and UK government officials.

  10. If the customers did complain. If there was a documented loss of business. If one could prove that the name was causing a problem would it not be reasonable for the employer to request a change be done to fix the problem? Obviously putting on a different name tag is better than firing the person. Putting on a different name tag is a lot easier solution than solving humanity’s prejudice, bigotry, and irrational fear.

    From a legal point of view, is “discrimination” (and putting a fake name on a name badge is far from discrimination) legally justifiable if it is dictated by the customers. I mean it would certainly be reasonable to refuse to hire a man to work as a sales person for a lingerie shop.

  11. Your name is your own. Only you should be willing to change if you so desire. Anyone else who decides to change your name for you, should not be permitted to do so! Ask Mr. Hotel Manager to change Julio’s, Joshua’s, or Paul’s name and and they will set him straight right then and There! I have stories to tell about my own experience since the 911 horrific terrorist act! It is almost impossible to comprehend how any Muslim could be presumed guilty in the land of “Innocent Until Proven Guilty.” A fundamental concept in the United States justice system, the expression was first used in the Bill of Rights to ensure all citizens receive a fair trial if they are ever charged with a crime, a principle known as due process of law.

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