Lt. Col. Jason Awadi has gone public with a complaint that he was discriminated against when he was passed over for promotion this summer. He claims that the Michigan National Guard discriminated against his Iraqi descent.
Awadi is a native of Dearborn, MI which also happens to be where a high concentration of refugees from the war in Iraq have settled. According to the Detroit Free Press, he is currently a strategist working for the Army Chief of Staff in Washington, D.C. Yesterday, Awadi officially filed a complaint, which alleges lesser qualified whites were promoted over him, with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commision (EEOC).
Lt. Col. Awadi’s attorney, Nabih Ayad of Detroit, claims that the Michigan National Guard has a history of discriminating against minorities. He specifically made this claim against the director of the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs and Adjutant General of the Michigan Guard, Major General Gregory Vadnais.
Ayad wrote in the complaint, “Of the 8 director level positions in the Guard, zero are held by minorities. Prior to the appointment of General Vadnais, three directorships were held by minorities. However, all three were forced into retirement under similar circumstances and were replaced by nonminorities.”
In a statement released by a spokesperson, Maj. Gen. Vadnais said, “The Michigan National Guard takes pride in being a diverse organization and that pride is evidenced by our presence in 43 communities around Michigan and an established history of having minorities in leadership positions. The Adjutant General maintains a robust equal opportunity program and will personally ensure that this matter is looked into and given the due process it deserves. The Adjutant General will provide more information when the issue is resolved and he is able to speak on the matter.”
Lt. Col. Awadi has served with the National Guard since 1995 and full-time since 2002. He told the Detroit Free Press that he has served multiple combat tours. He even held the position of Deputy Director of Military Personnel for the Michigan Army National Guard from 2001-2013.
His complaint specifically cites being selected for two different positions, for which his selection was contingent upon him being promoted to colonel. Both of the positions were given to whites, one of them whom was involved in a drunk driving incident.