Eleven current and former employees of Comcast’s Chicago South Side facility filed a lawsuit Monday, claiming the media company “has engaged in an ongoing pattern of race discrimination against African-American employees” since at least 2005.
According to the lawsuit, technicians at the South Side facility worked in a “hostile” environment and endured offensive name-calling. The workers allege that the facility was rundown, with a leaky roof and no temperature control until renovations in 2009, and riddled with cockroaches and rats, which crawled in and out of cable equipment, contributing to malfunctions.
The group claims they also were required to install defective equipment in African-American customers’ residences. If an employee complained, they were allegedly told that “South Side customers are more likely to steal equipment or not pay their bills.”
“The mistreatment of the black customers contributed to the hostile environment for Comcast’s African-American employees,” said Noelle Brennan, an attorney for the plaintiffs.
The lawsuit says the bad equipment caused longer service outages and problems, hurting employee evaluations and ultimately damaging workers’ pay and promotional opportunities. The workers also alleged Comcast’s facilities not primarily staffed by African-Americans and without an African-American customer base “are provided with the necessary tools and new customer equipment.”
In response to the lawsuit, Comcast spokeswoman Angelynne Amores said, “Comcast adamantly denies the allegations and will vigorously defend itself in court.”
The workers are seeking class-action status and look to recover lost wages and benefits, as well as compensatory and punitive damages.