Racial Discrimination Case Passes Legal Hurdle

October 15, 2002 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - A former temporary worker in a Pennsylvania parcel distribution facility who claims his boss called African-Americans "monkeys" can sue the company under federal discrimination law, a federal judge ruled.

US Judge Stewart Dalzell of the US District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania green-lighted plaintiff Anthony McClease’s lawsuit against R.R. Donnelley & Sons even though state law doesn’t recognize any employment contract between the two, according to a Legal Intelligencer report.

Dalzell ruled that “all employment relations are contractual in nature” for the purposes of being able to seek relief under federal anti-discrimination law.

Supervisor Alleged to have Made Racist Remarks

According to court papers, McClease was hired as a temporary worker in a parcel distribution facility in Levittown, Pa., that was owned by Donnelley and operated by Genco Corp.

The suit says Genco had contracted with Source One, a temporary employment agency, to provide workers for the facility. McClease was one of those workers. Within a week of his hiring, McClease claims, Genco hired a racist and put him in charge, the Legal Intelligencer said.

The suit alleges that Mike Michniewski began to subject minority employees to an unceasing stream of racial epithets and openly expressed his desire to eliminate blacks from the facility, according to the Legal Intelligencer report.

According to the complaint, Michniewski referred to black employees as “f—ing monkeys” and called them a “basketball team.”

At one point, the suit says, Michniewski stated that he wanted to “get a bunch of Orientals. I know they stink, but they piss on themselves instead of going to the bathroom, just to get the job done, ” the Legal Intelligencer reported.

After Asian workers were hired, Michniewski allegedly told McClease: “There are so many gooks in here we could make a war movie.”

The suit alleges that another manager also made racist comments and colluded with Michniewski in eliminating black employees.

McClease was ultimately fired from his post in April 2001.

Dalzell also rejected a defense argument that McClease failed to allege a valid claim of intentional infliction of emotional distress since he didn’t allege any physical harm.

The defense lawyers, Dalzell said, “seem to have overlooked Pennsylvania cases that have held that physical harm includes ‘ongoing mental … and emotional harm.'”