Eleven former and current Comcast employees in Chicago have filed a federal lawsuit against the cable giant, claiming it discriminated against African-American workers and subjected them to rat-infested conditions, according to several published reports.
The lawsuit, filed Nov. 28 in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, alleges that Comcast discriminated against technicians at its South Side Chicago facility, calling them derogatory names and forcing them to work in deplorable conditions. The suit alleges that equipment and cable boxes at the South Side facility were infested with cockroaches and that employees were instructed to install defective and roach-laden cable boxes at homes in the predominantly African-American section of the city because supervisors allegedly claimed "they'll only have cable for a month; they won't pay bills."
Comcast has vehemently denied the allegations.
"Comcast adamantly denies the allegations and will vigorously defend itself in court," company spokeswoman Angelynne Amores said in an e-mail. "As this relates to pending litigation, we cannot comment any further."
The suit claims that the South Side facility had a leaky roof, was not temperature controlled and was rife with hazards including high stacks of boxes, exhaust fumes, ceiling tiles that fell on working employees and did not have a functioning parking lot or training room. In contrast, Comcast North Side and Suburban Chicago facilities, which did not employ a majority of African American workers, were significantly better maintained, according to the suit.
The workers are seeking lost wages, including back pay, front pay and lost benefits and compensatory and punitive damages.