Hanna Nakano Oct. 7, 2015, 2:28pm


Two former employees are suing a Belle Chase company, alleging they were racially discriminated against, then fired for complaining about it.

Jamaal Ford and Shannon Jones filed a lawsuit Sept. 28 in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana against Epic Diving and Marine Services, also known as Epic Diving & Marine a Tetra Company, alleging violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.

According to the complaint, Ford and Jones, who were hired in May 2014 as shop hands, were not promoted at the same rate as white employees hired at the same time and who had less experience. The suit says white employees were hired as permanent employees and given better assignments, while black employees were denied those luxuries based on race.

“Racial tensions were made particularly apparent when the plaintiff’s supervisor made crass and crude comments based on race or color after a hangman’s noose and racial graffiti was discovered near Belle Chase and gained prominent news attention,” the suit reads. “[The supervisor's] comments were condoned and affirmed by other white employees at Epic.”

After complaining about the issue, Ford and Jones say they were fired in November 2014, allegedly due to a reduction in the workforce.

The plaintiffs seek seek declaratory judgment the practices at Epic were unlawful and violate the Civil Rights Act–and ask injunctive relief to bring Epic into compliance. Additionally, Ford and Jones want their jobs back, and to be paid wages and benefits they lost after their unlawful firing.

Ford and Jones seek damages for emotional pain and suffering, exemplary punitive damages, court and attorney fees. They are represented by attorneys Michael J. Begoun, Mark R. Wolfe, T. Daniel Pick, Nancy S. Silbert and Michael S. Finkelstien of Wolfe, Begoun & Pick in New Orleans.

U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana case number 2:15-cv-04812-JCZ-KWR.

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