Richmond City workers file EEOC Complaint, Lawsuit Threatened

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - The NAACP threatens a billion dollar lawsuit amid charges of racism by city workers. Wednesday morning, a group of employees with Richmond's Department of Public Utilities filed complaints with the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission.

This latest step comes after an internal investigation by the city which found evidence of discrimination and racism inside the water distribution division of public utilities. For the first time, an employee with the department -- who says he's a victim, is speaking out.

Tore Harris stood with seven co-workers during a press conference hosted by the  NAACP. All of the men, who are employed with the department of utilities, say they want action.

Harris, a pipeline technician, says his dream of working for the city has turned into a nightmare.

"I've never endured this level of stress and this level of disrespect -- it's everyday," said Harris.

The men claim they were called racial and sexual slurs by white managers and that there are unfair practices when it comes to promotions.

"It was rampant and it was harsh," said Harris.

A redacted report recently released by the city confirms many of the allegations. It calls the water distribution department "unorganized and unpleasant." On Wednesday, EEOC complaints were filed on behalf of the men.

Former city council member and advocate, Sa'ad El-amin says grievances will also be filed with the city in hopes of going before the personnel board.

"They can't give money but if there was a person who was displaced - they can be reinstated - if a promotion was denied, they can give the promotion," said El-amin.

He says if a resolution isn't reach a civil suit in the amount of one billion dollars will be filed.

Late Wednesday afternoon the mayor's office issued a statement that says in part, "The city has a zero-tolerance policy as it relates to harassment and discrimination. Recommendations made in the investigative report have been implemented."

Recommendations include one employee being fired and another suspended and transferred.

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