Lealem Mulugeta has always had a deeply-held passion for space flight, with a job at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) being a dream of his since he was a small boy. Upon being hired by the organization through contractor Universities Space Research Association, however, he soon found that the job was not what he expected.
“There were certain things said to me that were not proper,” Mulugeta said, a native Ethiopian who emigrated to Canada as a child before coming to the United States to pursue a career at NASA. “One of the civil servants I worked under told me I was practically his slave and he could abuse me all he wants.”
Though Mulugeta gave his employers the benefit of the doubt, repeated discriminatory comments and mistreatment over the course of years finally prompted him to complain to management, who proceeded to ignore his claims. After having his office moved to what was effectively a “janitor’s closet,” Mulugeta was eventually fired by NASA, at which time he turned to the team of Houston employment lawyers at Shellist Lazarz Slobin.
"There were incidents of discrimination throughout, from the beginning," said Sidd Rao, an attorney with Shellist Lazarz Slobin. "The message was he should not report these things and he should allow these things to continue."
For more information on this story, head over to abc13.com.
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