Bell Atlantic Accused Of Allowing Racism Ten Current And Former Workers Are Suing. They Say Conditions Were Bad Enough To Lead To Two Suicides.
May 11, 1999|By Joseph A. Slobodzian, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER
Ten current or former employees of Bell Atlantic Corp. have sued the company in federal court, contending that race harassment at a company garage in North Philadelphia was so bad it contributed to the suicides of two African American supervisors and the death of a third.
According to the lawsuit filed Friday in U.S. District Court here, two white managers at the Bell Atlantic garage at Second Street and Erie Avenue “practiced racism openly” between 1994 and 1997.
The two white managers addressed African Americans as “you people,” and used racially derogatory terms, condoned racial harassment in the workplace, and pressured black supervisors to discipline more black workers, the lawsuit contends.
The lawsuit also maintains that white supervisors followed African American employees to hospitals “purportedly because they did not believe their reasons for not being at work.”
The suit, filed on behalf of eight Philadelphia residents, a Yeadon resident and a Roslyn resident, seeks court orders barring racist activities by Bell Atlantic employees, unspecified compensatory damages and punitive damages of $100 million.
Bell Atlantic spokeswoman Joan Rasmussen said yesterday that company officials investigated the suicides and the death of the African American supervisors – all of whom worked at the Second and Erie garage – “long prior to these lawsuits being filed.”
The lawsuit said the third man died “as a result of this enormously hostile environment,” but did not say how the death occurred.
Rasmussen said the company brought psychologists and counsellors to the facility to interview and counsel coworkers of the three men “but we could find no evidence that these suicides were caused by discrimination. . . . or anything connected to work.”
She said the deaths did not occur when all three men were working simultaneously at the garage. One occurred after the person left Bell Atlantic, she said.
Rasmussen said it was “regrettable that someone is making use of a tragic situation such as this” and added that Bell Atlantic “takes this very seriously. Discrimination is completely unacceptable.”
She added that the company recently fired three people for sending racist e-mail messages.
John W. Hermina, the Maryland lawyer who filed the lawsuit on behalf of the 10 people, declined to elaborate on the lawsuit.
The lawsuit is an outgrowth of a proposed $500 million class-action lawsuit Hermina filed in 1996 in Washington against Bell Atlantic on behalf of 48 current and former African American Bell employees.
Last month, U.S. District Judge Ricardo M. Urbina in Washington denied the request for class certification of the 1996 lawsuit, meaning that the claims must be individually litigated. The Philadelphia suit is one of those individual claims.
As Verizon would say: Making Progress Every Day!
“The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.”
Neal W. Dias
My Blog Page:
Blog Address (GOOGLE): Bullying at Verizon – Enough is Enough
• Justice at Verizon
• Enough is Enough – Stop Workplace Bullying
Huffington Post Article:
Title: Verizon: Plenty Of Good Middle Class Jobs But Would You Want To Work There?
My Press Releases:
Healthy Workplace Bill Press Conference in Boston Massachusetts July 7, 2012 (Video):
Healthy Workplace Bill Press Conference in New York April 30, 2012 (Video): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W6pPe2gqGRI&feature=share
Civil Rights and Anti-Bullying Leadership Summit in Hartford Connecticut at the Legislators Building, August 9, 2012
**(Neal W. Dias – fast forward to 02:41:56 – 02:56:09)**
National Workplace Bullying Press Conference in Washington DC October 15th 2012
Newspaper Article About Me:
Healthy Workplace Bill Press Conference in New York April 30, 2012 (Newspaper Article):
Story on the Massachusetts Healthy Workplace web site June 11, 2012:
Civil Rights and Anti-Bullying Leadership Summit in Hartford Connecticut at the Legislators Building, August 9, 2012 (Flyer)
Press Release Distribution October 11, 2012
News Blaze October 12, 2012
ABC Channel 13 / WE-SET TV The Heart of Virginia October 15, 2012
24/7 Press Releases October 13, 2012
U.S. Politics Today October 15, 2012
Bullying at Verizon – Enough is Enough / Petition:
Enough is Enough – Stop Workplace Bullying / National Petition:
Healthy Workplace Bill:
Healthy Workplace National Bill page: http://www.healthyworkplacebill.org/
o PLEASE, click on this link above, then get into you specific state. Once you are in the state of your choice, Click on to your state, and you will see the: “HWCE-Z Letter E-Mailing Tool,” will be right on that page. It will only take one minute as it will allow your state legislators know instantly that you are in support on this “Healthy Workplace Bill.”
Workplace Bullying Institute (WBI) / Unlimited Resources
Undercover Lawyer / State Law Resources for Hostile Work Environment
Oprah (On Workplace Bullying):
National Workplace Bullying Attorney – Carol Ryder:
Attorney Carol Ryder from New York, NY.