Sunnyvale, CA – A former top executive at Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) has sued the chipmaker; claiming company founder Jerry Sanders and other leaders humiliated him and forced him out after September 11 because he is an Arab-American.
Walid Maghribi claims Sanders and AMD President Hector Ruiz repeatedly directed ethnic slurs and jokes at him, according to a complaint filed in US District Court in San Jose.
AMD officials vigorously denied any allegations of discrimination against Maghribi, who resigned in December from one of the highest-paying positions in the company, earning more than $6 million last year.
“The company’s position is that it’s utterly without merit,” said John Greenagle, an AMD company spokesman. “We’ll contest it.”
Maghribi, a president of AMD’s memory group and a member of the company’s executive staff, contends that both Sanders and Ruiz were directly responsible for ruining his career in the months after the attacks, reported Bridge Information Systems. Next week, Ruiz is set to succeed Sanders as AMD’s CEO.
Among other things, the suit contends that Maghribi’s troubles started in a meeting in October with Sanders and a number of other top executives and directors in which the subject of September 11 came up. The suit maintains that Sanders was startled to discover that Maghribi, who is Lebanese-born, was a Muslim, at one point allegedly saying to him, “You are not an Arab, right?”
Maghribi replied that, in fact, he was Arab and Muslim, and that Lebanon is an Arab country. Sanders allegedly replied: “No, it is not. You are not an Arab.”
The suit contends that Sanders immediately began to treat Maghribi poorly after the meeting, reported Bridge Information Systems. Within months, the suit contends, Maghribi went from one of AMD’s leaders to an outcast and he quit because of the hostile environment.
“I just don’t get it,” Maghribi, who lives in Los Gatos, said in an interview. “I was with AMD for 16 years. They promoted me five times. I was making a tremendous amount of money. Nothing was ever done to me until that date when we had that meeting.”
Several days after the meeting with Sanders, the suit contends that Sanders withdrew his support for what the complaint describes as the biggest business development deal AMD had going at the time. Maghribi was overseeing the undisclosed deal, which was then effectively scratched, according to the suit.
From there, the suit contends that Maghribi, despite his status as one of AMD’s leaders, was given “absurd” and “insulting” tasks that forced him to quit. The suit also contends that through this time period, Ruiz and others directed “demeaning” jokes about Arab nationals to both Maghribi and his wife.
The suit seeks unspecified damages. Maghribi, who has been in the US since 1969, when he arrived to attend college, said the experience was his first encounter with discrimination at AMD.
“This was the first time that I saw an officer of the company could be treated like a nobody,” he said.