Ex-railroad worker files suit against Illinois Central

February 4, 2014 4:02:39 PM PST
A former railroad conductor is taking legal action for what he calls a racially hostile work environment.

He has filed a lawsuit against Illinois Central Railroad.

Solomon Perry worked at Illinois Central's Markham Railway, where he says racial epithets were scrawled onto bathroom walls and casually uttered by employees, including supervisors. But it wasn't the insults that led to Tuesday's lawsuit, but an attack he says nobody should have to endure.

It was November of 2010. Perry had just come off his shift at the rail yard when he walked into the crew room. That's when he says four of his co-workers went after him with a six-inch knife, grabbed his dread locks and cut them off.

They were high-fiving each other," he said. "They were passing my hair around to one another, putting my hair to their head, prancing around the room, saying, 'Look at me, I'm a Rastafarian N- like Perry."

Perry says he immediately reported the incident to his supervisors, called railway police and filed a report but says they turned a blind eye to the allegations of racial and religious discrimination. When the company did agree to investigate, he says things only got worse. Perry showed off a copy of a death threat he says he received at home. It reads, "If you talk Monday you are dead" followed by a racial slur. And there was more.

"On my doorstep, there was a dead rat. Chest cavity split open," Perry said.

But in the end, Perry says nothing happened. No one was punished.

"They called these actions horseplay and advised me to go back to work. Move on and get over it," Perry said.

In filing the lawsuit against Illinois Central, attorney Lisa Banks called what Perry endured an egregious case of race discrimination.

"It seems outrageous that in 2014 we're still dealing with this kind of workplace, with this kind of discrimination, with this kind of harassment," she said.

An Illinois Central spokesperson would not comment on the lawsuit but said, "We do not and did not tolerate that type of behavior or racial harassment in general. Illinois Central responded immediately and appropriately that night. The company conducted a full investigation and took appropriate disciplinary action against the employees involved, including the termination of one of the employees."


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