An African American locomotive engineer has sued steel company ArcelorMittal in Philadelphia federal court alleging racial harassment. Among the complaints in the suit were that a stuffed pink monkey with a swastika on its forehead and a noose were placed in his work area in separate incidents at the company’s Conshohocken complex.
Darshall Coleman, 48, of Philadelphia, says in the suit that three separate incidents were reported to the Plymouth Township police.
“ArcelorMittal is an equal opportunity employer and takes discrimination allegations very seriously. The company has launched a full investigation into the matter but unfortunately due to the pending litigation, we are unable to comment further at this time,” ArcelorMittal spokesperson Bill Steers said in a statement.
ArcelorMittal, one of the world’s largest steel manufacturers, has laid off substantial numbers of workers at the Conshohocken complex as it has faced stiff foreign competition over the years. Company officials said on Thursday the Conshohocken complex employed 144 on Nov. 30.
According to the lawsuit, the pink monkey was placed on a dumpster near Coleman’s office in 2014.
The other incidents cited in the suit, filed on Dec. 13, occurred this year. The suit seeks a jury trial over discrimination, retaliation, and a hostile work environment. He is represented by attorneys from the Philadelphia firm Murphy Law Group.
Coleman alleges that he was placed in danger on March 6 when someone turned on the electric power to the train, almost electrocuting him and resulting in a “near miss investigation form” that confirmed he could have been injured. While seeking a promotion, Coleman says in the suit, he was tested on an engine he hadn’t been trained for.
Coleman also claims that someone wrote “KKK” and a racial epithet on his office door and spilled oil on the stairway leading to his office on Oct. 31.
After this incident, Coleman said he told the company’s human resources manager that he felt unsafe and was placed on administrative leave. Company officials later called him back and asked if he had written on his door and spilled the oil, the suit says.