Articles Tagged with civil rights

Marcus Staples worked for Advanced Technology Recycling, an electronics de-manufacturing company headquartered in Pontiac, Illinois, with seven locations across the country. In Staples’ Complaint filed in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, he alleges that whenever the company’s project manager was on site, he referred to Staples and Staples’ African-American coworkers as “boy”—while referring to white co-coworkers by their given names. One of Staples’ coworkers has stated under oath that he “was so upset” by the manager’s “offensive racism, I frequently complained to [our supervisor] about it myself. During 2019, I complained to [her] about [the] behavior on approximately a weekly basis, either on my own or with co-workers. She said she would take care of it, but nothing changed to remedy the situation.” 

 The conduct escalated: Staples alleges that the manager derisively compared him to a monkey, and when Staples was offended and upset, the next day the manager handed him a baggie of fried chicken in front of multiple coworkers as a mocking “apology.”  

 Staples alleges in his Complaint, and multiple co-workers confirm under oath, that when the manager returned to the worksite after these incidents, he resumed calling Staples and his African-American coworkers “boy” —  the same as before. Staples alleges that the company went on to retaliate against him for filing an EEOC charge, baselessly disciplining him. When he refused to work through the EEOC to try to settle the charge [which indicated that Staples planned to sue], Staples alleges ATR fired him. 

Friedman & Houlding LLP clients Derick Brown, Atiba Flemons, and Jeffrey Taylor, have brought a Class Action suit on behalf of Black employees at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, alleging that the University has a pattern or practice of tolerating racial harassment against its Black employees, and that the office charged with investigating complaints of racial harassment is itself discriminatory in its handling of complaints.

One former Office of Access and Equity (OAE) Investigator, a non-party witness in the lawsuit, testified that she “was working in a hostile work environment,” describing the reasons that she left her employment at OAE (formerly ODEA), the office charged with investigating complaints of harassment and discrimination at the Urbana-Champaign campus. Referring to Director of OAE, Heidi Johnson, the witness testified, “It was my perception and I believe the perception — because it was told to me by other colleagues, that Heidi favored our white colleagues.”

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The witness testified that she did not think Director Johnson treated employees of color in OAE equitably, describing Johnson’s indifference on issues concerning diversity and inclusion and personnel actions driven by bias, including stripping away the title of the witness, a person of color, without a stated basis, favoring White employees with less experience for promotions, and issuing the witness with a baseless disciplinary action. This treatment ultimately drove the witness to leave the University of Illinois after working many years as an OAE investigator.

A Tennessee woman has filed a Complaint in Davidson County Chancery Court alleging that her employer, Motel 6, did nothing to protect her from harassment based on her HIV positive status–and that she was summarily fired for taking action after the hotel was sold to a franchisee. Friedman & Houlding LLP represents the Plaintiff, Jane Roe, who is proceeding under a pseudonym to protect her personal health information.

Roe worked at a corporate-owned Motel 6 location. When she began taking a medication that could cause dizziness, she informed the two on-site managers about her HIV status so they could take appropriate precautions to protect their own health in the event she fell and was injured on the job.

Roe alleged that one of the managers proceeded to engage in a campaign of harassment based on Roe’s HIV status, including telling numerous coworkers as well as hotel guests that Roe “has AIDS,” telling a pregnant co-worker not to use the employee restroom after Roe, leaving Clorox wipes in the bathroom as a reference to Roe being “unclean,” and mocking Roe by asking about her health, making comments like “you look swollen today, are you sure your health is okay?” Roe alleged that the conduct even escalated to harassing phone calls on the hotel line while Roe was at work.

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