Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

State contractor for TIA roadwork harassed black employees, lawsuit says

TAMPA — While working on the massive project to recalibrate traffic around Tampa International Airport, four black employees of a state contractor say in a lawsuit they were harassed with blistering racial slurs and fired.

In addition to the epithets, the suit alleges, white supervisors called the workers "monkeys" and one co-worker brought a noose to work.

The employees, all from Hills­borough County, say they lost their jobs in 2007 because of their race or after they had reported harassment to supervisors, the suit says.

Demetrius Catuey, Cyril Padgett, Bennie Woods and Myra Johnson filed the civil suit against the joint venture of Flatiron-Tidewater Skanska this month.

Attorneys representing each side could not be reached for comment Monday afternoon.

Flatiron-Tidewater Skanska was the primary contractor for the more-than-$200 million project to smooth traffic near the airport that wrapped up in March.

A spokesman for the Florida Department of Transportation, which oversaw the project, was not able to say Monday whether the agency previously was aware of the harassment complaints.

The four plaintiffs were employed by the contractor between March 2006 and November 2007, the suit says, when they were all terminated.

According to the suit, some white co-workers and bosses harassed and created a hostile work environment for black employees. Johnson was also sexually harassed, the suit says.

The plaintiffs earlier had filed complaints with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

In letters to the men, the EEOC said: "The evidence establishes that Charging Party was subjected to racial harassment and a racially hostile environment."

The letters also said, "The evidence also establishes that other similarly situated individuals have been subjected to harassment and a hostile work environment based on their race, Black."

The EEOC said it did not find sufficient evidence Johnson had been racially or sexually harassed, but it did say other similarly situated employees were subject to a hostile work environment.

The plaintiffs are requesting a judge designate the case a class-action lawsuit. The four are also seeking lost wages, benefits and punitive damages.

Shelley Rossetter can be reached at srossetter@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3374.

State contractor for TIA roadwork harassed black employees, lawsuit says 11/22/10 [Last modified: Monday, November 22, 2010 11:46pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. East Tampa store owner who survived one shooting is targeted again with fatal results

    Crime

    TAMPA — In the 2011 video, Mahamoud Ibrahim stands behind the counter of his tiny East Tampa convenience store, his back to the surveillance camera meant to discourage thieves.

    A memorial has sprouted in front of the 29th Street Store in East Tampa, where a robber fatally shot owner Mohamoud Ibrahim on July 16. Security experts say small mom-and-pop stores in high crime areas are easy targets for robberies and typically don't have the budgets for extra security measures. [TONY MARRERO/Times Staff]
  2. Pinellas superintendent, School Board pen letter to legislative delegation for help against 'unjust' funds for charter schools

    Blogs

    Because of a recent change in state law, the Pinellas County school district will have to shell out $25 million over five years  -- more funding per student than any other large district in the state -- for charter school construction and maintenance projects, and district officials …

    Pinellas County School Board Superintendent Michael Grego during a School Board meeting on August 25, 2015 at the School Administration Building, 301 Fourth Street SW in Largo.
  3. AARP still waiting for the two Ricks to send voter education videos

    Blogs

    AARP Florida wants to educate St. Petersburg residents on Mayor Rick Kriseman and former mayor Rick Baker’s views on how to make the Sunshine City more livable.

    It's been a frenetic St. Pete mayor's race so far. Maybe that's the reason AARP hasn't received voter education videos from the campaigns
  4. Photos: Kehlani packs fans into a sold-out Orpheum in Tampa

    Blogs

    R&B singer Kehlani had to postpone a spring show in Tampa due to illness, but it seemed she was no worse for the wear on Thursday, when her make-up show sold out the Orpheum well in advance. Ella Mai and Jahkoy opened the show. Aubrey Wipfli was there snapping photos; click the headline …

    Kehlani performed at the Orpheum in Tampa on July 20, 2017.
  5. Rowdies part of a record-setting season for USL attendance

    Soccer

    ST. PETERSBURG — Although Rowdies fans haven't had many recent opportunities to show out at Al Lang, the United Soccer League turnstiles keep turning at a record rate.

    A Rowdies fan waves flags ahead of the first half of the game between Tampa Bay Rowdies and Orlando City B at Al Lang Stadium in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Saturday, March 25, 2017.