Employees claim racial discrimination after co-workers call them 'boys'

Michelle Massey Sep. 15, 2010, 2:28am

Two welders assigned to work on an oil rig have filed a racial discrimination lawsuit against their previous employer, after co-workers allegedly referred to them as "boys."

Shaun Jackson and Christopher Wilson allege civil rights violations in a suit against Wilson Welding Service filed Aug. 27 in federal court in New Orleans.

The former welders state African-Americans were discriminated against through the provision of different housing that did not contain air conditioning and lockable lockers. They say racist jokes were told in their presence and the men were referred to as "boys" and other derogatory names.

The defendant is also accused of allowing racially-offensive language to be written on a wall at the work site, allowing the white employees to leave the work site early and giving the African-American workers less-desirable work.

Jackson and Wilson say they reported the racial harassment to their supervisor but says their complaints was ignored. In response, Jackson and Wilson complained to the rig's owner, Innovative Energy Services. According to their complaint, Innovative terminated its contract with the defendant due to the racial harassment and is excluding the defendant from bidding for work with any entity associated with Innovative.

Wilson was terminated from his employment on Aug. 2, 2008. As Wilson provided Jackson's transportation to work, Jackson states it was effectively terminating his employment, as well, because no public transportation was available.

The defendants are accused of racial discrimination, constructive discharge, creating a hostile work environment and retaliation.

Jackson and Wilson are asking the court to prevent the defendants from continued violations and are seeking an award of damages for back-pay, interest, front-pay, punitive and compensatory damages, nominal damages, declaratory and injunctive relief, court costs, attorneys' fees and expenses.

They are represented by C. Perrin Rome, III, W. Chad Stelly and Blake G. Arata, Jr. of Rome, Arata, Baxley & Stelly in New Orleans.

A jury trial is requested.

U.S. District Judge Mary Ann Vial Lemmon is assigned to the case.

Case No. 2:10cv02843

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