A Farmingville family was kicked out of the Empire State Building last summer after security guards told the parents they were not allowed to pray at the historic skyscraper’s famed observation deck, the Long Islanders alleged in a lawsuit filed Tuesday in Manhattan federal court.
The suit claims religious discrimination and negligence against Empire State Building Company LLC, and several other company’s associated with the towering building.
The couple, Fahad and Amina Tirmizi, was “shamed, humiliated, and embarrassed in front of each other, their children and the general public,” according to the suit.
The episode occurred when the couple had reached the observation deck, walked over to an isolated area and began to pray at about 11 p.m. on July 2, 2013, according to the suit. The couple took turns praying, but Fahad was interrupted when two security guards came over and informed him that “he was not allowed to pray while at the Observatory,” the suit alleges.
One of the unnamed guards, the suit continues, proceeded to “menacingly” poke Fahad and then “raised his voice.”
The couple and their two children were told to leave the premises and then were “forcibly” escorted to the elevator and eventually out of the Empire State Building, the suit alleges.
“The claims are totally without merit and we will respond to them in court,” an Empire State Building Company spokesperson said in a statement.
The couple was not made available for an interview. They are being represented by Brooklyn-based attorney Philip Hines of Held & Hines, LLP, who could not immediately be reached.
The suit alleges, among other things, that the building’s operators and the security guards that they employ discriminated against the family because they are Muslim and were wearing traditional Muslim garb during their visit. The episode caused them to suffer physical, psychological and emotional injuries, according to the suit. Court documents did not specify if any monetary damages are being sought.