Employment Discrimination Clinic Files Class Action Challenge to Race Discrimination on South Side of Chicago

February 29, 2012

Cockroaches crawling out of your cable set-top box rates high on the ‘ick’ scale.  But on the south side of Chicago, it may be symptomatic of a deeper problem, and one that Wes Griffith (’12), Adam Susser (’13), and Professor Randy Schmidt of the Employment Discrimination Clinic are seeking to address.

The Employment Discrimination Clinic is in the midst of litigating a class action race discrimination complaint in federal court on behalf of eleven African American employees of Comcast Corporation.  The lawsuit alleges that Comcast has engaged in an ongoing pattern of race discrimination against African American employees at its South Chicago facility. That facility services customers located on the south side of Chicago. The South Side facility’s employee population is approximately 90% African American, and the customers served by the South Side facility are predominantly African American.

Plaintiffs allege that Comcast discriminated against employees at the South Side location by 1) forcing class members to work in substandard facilities which were infested with cockroaches and rats; 2) requiring South Side employees to install infested and/or defective equipment to its customers and denying them other necessary equipment and tools required to provide adequate service to its customers; 3) failing to provide training and to promote South Side African American employees into higher level positions; 4) failing to provide equal pay and fair evaluations to South Side African American employees; and 5) subjecting South Side African American employees to a hostile work environment by: referring to African American employees in a racially derogatory manner, applying workplace rules and regulations in a racially biased manner, falsely assuming that equipment given to African American employees would be stolen, instructing African American employees to follow different protocols than similarly situated non-African American employees when placing service calls, and failing to provide African American employees with facilities that would allow equal levels of service as compared to the facilities of non-African American employees. In response to these discriminatory practices, South Side African American employees made repeated complaints about their own treatment and the treatment of Comcast’s South Side African American customers. Despite the complaints, Comcast did nothing to remedy the discrimination.

The case is in its early stages.  Links to some of the early coverage of the lawsuit are here:  Chicago Tribune; Chicago Sun-Times; BET; NBC; and CBS.