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EEOC sues Aqua America for racial discrimination

After learning black employees were called "nigger" and "monkey," the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission sued a local water company for racial discrimination. Not us, Aqua America said, laying the blame at the feet of a previous subsidiary.

Nicholas DeBenedictis is the chairman of Aqua American.
Nicholas DeBenedictis is the chairman of Aqua American.Read moreMichael Bryant / Staff Photographer

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission sued Aqua America Inc. in federal court Sept. 29, saying that the Bryn Mawr-based water treatment company discriminated against African Americans at its Bear, Del. facility, including African American employee, Henry Blue. Blue worked at Aqua's plant as an operator and foreman from January 2015 through May 2016 when he was terminated after complaining about supervisors, the suit said.

Blue said in the suit that Aqua's supervisors used racial slurs when referring to him and other African American employees. Blue and the other African American employees complained, but the behavior didn't stop, according to the suit filed in Philadelphia. The suit asks Aqua to institute and enforce better practices, and to compensate the workers. The suit does not say how many employees were involved.

"We are completely disheartened by these allegations, which concern a previous subsidiary," the company said in a statement. "The actions described in this lawsuit run completely counter to everything Aqua stands for as a company."