September 25th, 2012

Three women working as limousine drivers in Rochester, Minnesota, are pursuing a sex discrimination claim against their former employer and against Price Abdul-Rahman bin Adbul-Aziz of Saudi Arabia. The women say that they were hired as drivers for the Prince and his entourage when they were in Minnesota for medical treatment at the Mayo Clinic in 2010, but were let go on the second day of a month-long assignment because the Prince requested no female drivers.

The women said that when they arrived to work on the second day, a supervisor told them that his hands were tied and he had to fire them based on the Prince’s request.

An attorney for the women pointed out that customer preference has not been a viable defense to workplace discrimination claims in the past, especially in cases of racial discrimination. While it is certainly a concern for the business owner that the prince may not choose their services again, it is also true that no limousine company could lawfully abide by the request, so competitors would not be at an advantage.

There is some question as to whether the prince will be subject to the lawsuit or whether he will be protected by diplomatic immunity. The plaintiffs may also face some difficulty in properly serving him with the lawsuit, since he is out of the country and may be able to avoid service of process.

The women who are bringing the lawsuit say that they are doing so in solidarity with the women of Saudi Arabia, who are prohibited from driving based on a religious ruling made in 1991.

Source: Star Tribune, “Three Rochester women sue Saudi prince” Dan Browning, Sep. 24, 2012.

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