Mukaddam v. Permanent Mission of Saudi Arabia to the United Nations

111 F. Supp. 2d 457 (2000)

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Mukaddam v. Permanent Mission of Saudi Arabia to the United Nations

United States District Court for the Southern District of New York
111 F. Supp. 2d 457 (2000)

Facts

Rajaa Al Mukaddam (plaintiff) sued her employer, the Permanent Mission of Saudi Arabia to the United Nations (the mission) (defendant) for wrongful termination and retaliation under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 following two years of alleged harassment and gender discrimination. The mission moved to dismiss Mukaddam’s complaint, arguing that the mission could not be subject to Mukaddam’s legal challenge on account of the mission’s sovereign immunity under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA) and provisions of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of 1961 (the Vienna Convention) that conferred foreign states with the freedom to appoint staff members to their missions. The mission argued that the freedom to hire and fire its own staff provided the mission with absolute immunity from challenges to its staffing activities. In considering the motion to dismiss, the court first determined that Mukaddam’s employment fell within the commercial-activity exception of the FSIA and thus that the mission was not entitled to sovereign immunity. The court then considered the mission’s assertion of diplomatic immunity under the Vienna Convention.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Kaplan, J.)

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