Why Was This Middle Eastern Couple Fired?

Aliakbar and Shala Afshari worked at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. They have been in the U.S. for 18 years, working and raising a family. On May 5, they were fired suddenly--being told only that they had The failed a secret background check.

What does that mean?

They have been told they were fired for national security reasons that remain secret. When their lawyer requested the documents used to justify the action, he was told none existed. When he asked for copies of the agency's policies relating to the background checks, he received a generic personnel handbook.

Finally, they sued.

Unable to clear their names or find new employment in their field, the Afsharis on Thursday resorted to that most American of recourses: they sued the institute and its parent agencies, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Department of Health and Human Services, demanding back pay and reinstatement or the chance to appeal.

In their suit, they do not question the government's right to conduct background checks. But their lawyers contend that the Kafkaesque nature of the process - in which the rules were unclear and perhaps unwritten - has made it impossible for them to defend themselves.

"How can we expect the people of the Middle East to emulate our democratic ideals abroad when we fail to apply those ideals to people like the Afsharis here?" asked Allan N. Karlin, a lawyer in Morgantown who, along with chapters of the American Civil Liberties Union in West Virginia and Washington, is representing the couple.

Read the whole article. It's shameful that our Governement treats people this way.

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