Aerospace Firm Electroimpact Agrees to Pay $485K After AG Finds ‘Shocking’ Discrimination Against Muslims
Nina Shapiro, Seattle Times, March 23, 2017
Electroimpact, a prominent aerospace supplier whose president voiced hatred of Muslims and encouraged his mostly white engineers to marry and procreate, has entered into a consent decree with the state Attorney General’s Office that requires the company to pay $485,000 and takes its controversial leader out of direct hiring.
The court-monitored decree, in effect for 42 months, stems from a nearly yearlong investigation, which concluded that the Mukilteo-based company violated state law by discriminating on the basis of religion and marital status.
The attorney general’s civil-rights unit began investigating Electroimpact after a Seattle Times story last year revealed a workplace culture shaped by President Peter Zieve’s vehement views — expressed in emails to employees that referred to “terrorist savages” and allowing our “wonderful country to be backfilled with rubbish from the desperate and criminal populations of the third world.”
Zieve offered financial incentives to workers who married and had children. And he organized a campaign to stop construction of a Mukilteo mosque.
The president, who has not yet responded to requests for comment, told The Seattle Times last year that he refused to be politically correct. He said he treated his employees like family, throwing them a big Christmas party every year. Chief of Staff Ben Hempstead said then that Zieve’s controversial opinions did not affect the company’s mission.
Zieve, an engineer himself and founder of the company, personally handled much of the hiring, reiterated a complaint by the Attorney General’s Office filed in Snohomish County Superior Court on Thursday at the same time as the consent decree. He placed ads, interviewed candidates and asked for their photographs to screen — or screen out — applicants.
He nixed those who looked as if they might be Muslim, or had a Muslim name, the complaint charged.
The document quoted liberally from Zieve’s emails equating Muslims or refugees from predominantly Muslim countries with terrorists.
“I can send you two Iraq refugees immediately,” Zieve wrote to an employee who requested more engineers. “They will be a bit sleepy since they are up all night making bombs.”
In another email about the proposed Mukilteo mosque, he wrote: “I can tell you that most Chinese hate moslems (sic). Not as much as me, but an adequate amount of hate.”
The complaint also noted that Zieve used company resources to organize a “mosque-watch” group. Although not mentioned in the document, Zieve last year sent anonymous postcards to Mukilteo residents to let them know of the planned mosque.
In another email cited in the complaint, Zieve said: “I note that 381,00 terrorist savages have gotten into Europe so far this year and if we don’t make more babies the light will go out on civilization.”
He dispensed “marriage bonuses” that at one time amounted to $1,000.
The Washington Law Against Discrimination bars workplace discrimination on the basis of marital status. It does not, however, bar such discrimination from family status (as state law on housing discrimination does), so the complaint does not mention profit-sharing allocations to workers based on the number of children they had.
The $485,000 paid by Electroimpact will go toward compensating victims of the company’s discrimination, harassment or retaliation. Chien said she expects some of the approximately 10 current and former employees she interviewed to qualify.
In addition to barring Zieve from most hiring decisions, the consent decree mandates that Electroimpact update its nondiscrimination and harassment policies, train employees about state discrimination law and make good-faith efforts to diversify its workforce.
Roughly 95 percent of the company’s engineers are white, according to a company report submitted last year to the U.S. Department of Labor.