Nine ex-workers file racial harassment lawsuit against Lansing electrical contracting company
Nine former employees of Lansing-based United Electrical Contractors have filed a federal lawsuit alleging they were racially and sexually harassed by several managers at the company.
The lawsuit claims the former workers, who are Black and Latino, were routinely spoken to in a derogative manner, denied training and equipment and laid off in place of others with less seniority.
The plaintiffs are seeking compensatory and punitive damages to cover economic injury and emotional distress.
Speaking Tuesday at a protest outside the company’s main office, attorney Richard Mack outlined some of his clients’ experiences.
“They were told, ‘you’re not going to get training,’ Mack said. “They were told, ‘you’re not going to get the right equipment.’ They’re not even going to get rides to the jobs that they worked on because of their race. They complained about it and they were fired.”
Tyler Richardson, who is Black, worked at United Electrical Contractors just three months before he says he was let go ahead of more recent hires.
“If you tell us that this is a seniority thing, why do white people who were there for less time than we were not laid off?” Richardson asked. “That doesn’t make much sense to me. I want United Electrical to be held accountable for their actions.”
In a written statement, United Electrical Contractors president Scott Flegler says the lawsuit is a “smear campaign” mounted by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, whom he claims is trying coerce his company into becoming a union shop.
The case is pending in the U.S. District Court of the Eastern District of Michigan.