Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Bosnian refugee in Clearwater sues Cox Heating & Air Conditioning, claiming discrimination at work over Muslim heritage

CLEARWATER — A Clearwater man says his employer looked the other way when co-workers repeatedly called him "terrorist" and joked about his Muslim and Bosnian heritage, according to a complaint filed in federal court in Tampa last week.

Sanidin Tursic, 28, whose nickname is Sonny, complained about discrimination to his supervisor at Cox Heating & Air Conditioning, "but nothing was done," the complaint alleges.

Cox, based in Clearwater, declined to discuss the case.

"It's in litigation and I'm not going to comment," Cox general manager Martin Moskowitz said Wednesday.

Tursic's lawsuit also says he was treated differently from other workers, reprimanded for being a minute late to work on Dec. 30, 2008, and was given an ultimatum to put up with the discipline or leave. He chose to leave that day.

"I started thinking something worse would happen if I stayed there," Tursic said last week.

A refugee of the Bosnian war, Tursic and his family came to the United States from Germany in 1998 to settle in Iowa. They moved to Jacksonville several years later. Tursic and his girlfriend came to Clearwater in 2006.

That year, Tursic was hired by Cox. He started working at the shop and later in the field installing heating and air conditioning systems.

His case lists about a dozen allegations of discriminatory behavior from Cox workers and his superiors.

Among them, that:

• One co-worker programmed Tursic's phone number as "Terrorist" in his cellular phone.

• Workers made up songs about riding camels and being a terrorist.

• Workers would make fun of genocide in Bosnia.

Tursic's lawsuit also seeks unpaid wages and overtime pay, claiming he was not paid for work he was required to do off the job site.

His lawsuit also seeks lost wages, benefits, compensatory and punitive damages and attorney's fees and costs.

Tursic said his girlfriend, who is Bosnian and Catholic, persuaded him to see a lawyer.

"People need to know about it," Tursic said.

Lorri Helfand can be reached at or (727) 445-4155.

Bosnian refugee in Clearwater sues Cox Heating & Air Conditioning, claiming discrimination at work over Muslim heritage 06/10/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, June 10, 2009 7:03pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Still worried about family, Tampa Bay Puerto Ricans ramp up relief effort


    TAMPA — Brenda Irizarry is worried.

    Brenda Irizarry of Tampa, while agonizing over the status of family in storm-ravaged Puerto Rico, is helping lead an effort to collect and send supplies to the island. [ALESSANDRA DA PRA  |   Times
  2. Was it a crime? 10 patients at nursing home died after Irma


    HOLLYWOOD, Fla. (AP) — A 10th elderly patient has died after being kept inside a nursing home that turned into a sweatbox when Hurricane Irma knocked out its air conditioning for three days, even though just across the street was a fully functioning and cooled hospital.

    The Rehabilitation Center of Hollywood Hills, 1200 N. 35th Ave. [EMILHY MICHOT | Miami Herald]
  3. Oh, Florida! Irma's gone, but she left behind plenty of lessons for us


    I don't want to make light of the misery and death that Hurricane Irma inflicted on Florida this month. A lot of it was ugly, and some of it was downright criminal. We saw greed and pettiness on display, and it brought illness and death.

    Tampa Bay Times staff writer Craig Pittman.
  4. 'Toxic' times: How repeal of Florida's tax on services reverberates, 30 years later

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Long before Hurricane Irma attacked Florida, the state faced a troubled fiscal future that the storm will only make worse.

    Robertson says the tax debate is now “toxic.”
  5. Facebook to release Russia ads to Congress amid pressure

    NEW YORK (AP) — Facebook will provide the contents of 3,000 ads bought by a Russian agency to congressional investigators.