He was a 25-year-old South Asian Muslim working in a pharmacy in the Philadelphia suburbs with vivid memories of getting pushed around and even bullied in high school after the 9/11 attacks - but he thought that era was all in the past.
That thought changed one afternoon in summer 2009, when he was working a long line at the pharmacy counter and two middle-aged white women accused him of being too slow - then told his manager to "watch this kid, otherwise he's going to blow up the store."
Stunned, the man - who spoke about the incident on condition he remain anonymous - said he asked the woman why she would make such a comment, only to hear back: "Yeah, whatever . . . terrorist."
The man said he walked off the job and then was forced by his bosses to quit; he filed a case with the Philadelphia Council on American-Islamic Relations, or CAIR, which tried unsuccessfully to win his job back.