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Lawsuit alleges ‘racially hostile’ environment at Rock Hill trucking firm

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleges that former employees of Rock Hill’s TNT Trucking quit their jobs as a result of a racially hostile environment.
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleges that former employees of Rock Hill’s TNT Trucking quit their jobs as a result of a racially hostile environment. domara@heraldonline.com

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed a lawsuit Tuesday against T-N-T of York County, Inc. and TM Trucking of the Carolinas, LLC, noting allegations of subjecting current and former black employees to a “racially hostile work environment.”

The federal agency alleges that former employees Rodney Dunlap and Warren Chisolm, as well as five other class claimants, quit their jobs as a result of the racially hostile environment.

The lawsuit alleges that throughout their employment with T-N-T - from2013 to 2014 - both Dunlap and Chisolm were discriminated against based on their race. They say the company’s owner “frequently” referred to blacks using the N-word, once referring to a Native American employee as “Indian (N-word).”

When the owner was once asked why he referred to blacks in that manner, the owner allegedly responded to Dunlap that the term “refers to an ignorant person.”

 

The suit alleges the owner told Dunlap that “monkeys could drive better” than the black drivers who worked for the company, which is located at 605 Albright Road, in Rock Hill. The suit says Dunlap resigned from the company in late January 2014 and that Chisolm quit later that summer.

The suit goes on to say that the owner made derogatory comments about black people that included “such things as saying that black people can’t read or write or saying that black people always want things for free.”

Five former employees that are listed as class claimants alleged similar discrimination and racial slurs, with one saying that the owner used the N-word “on a daily basis, several times per day,” according to the suit. When reached Wednesday morning, T-N-T of York County, Inc. declined comment. Rachael Steenbergh, a trial attorney with the EEOC listed on the suit, also declined comment.

The complaint states that “the unlawful employment practices complained of above were intentional” and were “done with malice or with reckless indifference to the federally protected rights” of current and former black employees.

The EEOC is requesting a jury trial, and is seeking for the black employees to receive lost wages, punitive damages and compensation resulting from “emotional pain,” “humiliation” and “loss of self-esteem,” among other relief. It also seeks to order the defendants to “institute and carry out” policies and programs that provide equal employment opportunities for blacks.

Earlier this year, a federal court filed an injunction ordering T-N-T to “stop violating their employment tax reporting, deposit and payment obligations,” according to a U.S. Department of Justice press release from January. The government’s complaint alleged that Tony McMillan operated the trucking company since at least 2008 and was “routinely late” in filing its tax returns and paying employment taxes.

 

According to the complaint, McMillan also failed to turn over the taxes withheld from his employees’ paychecks. By the time the complaint was filed in June 2015, the release says, T-N-T of York County and TM Truck of the Carolinas together owed “more than $2.7 million in federal employment and unemployment taxes for various periods from 2009 through 2014.

David Thackham: 803-329-4066, @dthackham

To read the EEOC complaint or the federal court injunction, go to www.heraldonline.com

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