Media company GDS International sued for sex and religious discrimination

Lobna Abdelrehim, a 26-year-old Egyptian-American employee at GDS International, has filed a lawsuit against the media company alleging gender and religious discrimination and for retaliation after she objected to the alleged workplace discrimination.

Lobna Abdelrehim

Abdelrehim’s lawsuit states that she has been subjected to an “overtly and disturbing sexually hostile work environment” at GDS International’s Wall Street offices. The complaint describes a workplace that is “rife with unwelcome sex-based bodily contact, such as hugs, patting, and face and forehead kissing.”

Abdelrehim alleges that sexually inappropriate company-wide emails referring to topics such as “MILFs” were regularly distributed.  In addition, her lawsuit claims that she and other saleswomen were given “overtly sexist and demeaning sales propaganda, exhorting [them] to use their feminine wiles as a sale closing technique.” 

For example, one company memo was entitled “Using your SEX to Sell and the Boulevard to Bombshell Bitchiness,” which included tips for female employees to “flirt to get what [you] want” and how female employees “can get away with being aggressive because its sexy.”

Abdelrehim, a Muslim, also claims that religious discrimination against Muslims was common at GDS International.  For example, emails were circulated among employees “depicting men in Muslim garb as raging homicidal terrorists.”

After Abdelrehim complained to the HR manager about the hostile work environment, she alleges that company management “made no attempt to credibly investigate, let alone redress,” her complaints.  Instead, she claims that she was retaliated against for having complained by being demoted shortly afterwards, and she was told that she would be fired if she didn’t achieve an extremely high and “unrealistic” sales quota.


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2 responses to “Media company GDS International sued for sex and religious discrimination

  1. I worked for this company in its Australian office many years ago, and it was basically set up as a bunch of desks with headsets and I found it extremely difficult to build credibility to try and sell to senior VP level management of major companies a product when they could tell we were pitching at them off scripted call sheets. I was relieved when they told me I was no longer required, as I moved into a much better role elsewhere, and despite the local MD at GDS telling me I had no future in sales and would never be management material, I now find myself in a senior management role with a major european prestige car manufacturer. Whilst they put together some pretty impressive publications, I can say that during my time there some of the methods used to obtain contributions were extremely dubious and in cases, outright dishonest. I remember one day a potential client actually visited our offices and when he saw it was essentially a call centre cancelled his order as he’d been led to believe it was a much bigger and more sophisticated company. Ah, the irony!

  2. yeah this company is an absolute joke. see for more information on GDS International. You did the right thing in getting out, be warned and do not work with GDS!

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