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Suit: Comcast gave bad boxes to S. Side customers, discriminated against black workers

Updated: January 1, 2012 8:19AM



Nearly a dozen current and former Comcast employees claim the South Side facility where they worked was infested with bugs and rodents and say they were forced to install inadequate or bug-infested equipment into South Side homes.

Eleven current and former employees claim in a federal lawsuit that the media company discriminated against African-American employees by forcing them to work in a substandard facility at 721 E. 112th St., and by requiring them to install defective equipment in South Side homes.

The suit, filed late Monday in U.S. District Court, further claims African-American employees at the South Side facility were called derogatory names, not offered equal pay or fair evaluations and were not provided with proper training for promotions.

The 11 plaintiffs have been employed by Comcast and its predecessor for an average of 15 years each, and have been complaining about disparate treatment against African-American employees and customers since 2005, the suit claims.

The employees claim they would find cockroaches crawling in and out of equipment, and in their lockers, trucks and equipment bags. They also claim the South Side facility had rats, a leaky ceiling and birds that flew in and out of the warehouse.

The employees claim they saw cockroach eggs fall out of cable boxes that were supposed to be installed in customers’ homes. When an employee complained, the supervisor said, “ ‘Just put the box in — you’re in Englewood. They’ll only have cable for a month. They won’t pay bills,’ ” the suit said.

The suit claims the South Side facility was given rejected, broken or rehabbed equipment to install in the homes of South Side customers. Some employees were not given drills and were told to run cable wires through windows, while others did not receive new uniforms like employees at North Side and suburban facilities.

In 2005, a human resources manager was told not to put discrimination complaints in writing, according to the suit. Officials later said employees complained about the racial discrimination two to three times a month, the suit said.

“Comcast adamantly denies the allegations and will vigorously defend itself in court,” Comcast spokeswoman Angelynne Amores said. “As this relates to pending litigation, we cannot comment any further.”

The suit seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages, as well as lost wages, back pay and benefits for those who lost jobs or who weren’t promoted due to discrimination.



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