4 employees at N. Charleston Boeing facility file racial discrimination lawsuit against company

One of the world's biggest airplane manufacturers is under the microscope after two crashes.
One of the world's biggest airplane manufacturers is under the microscope after two crashes.
Published: Sep. 26, 2019 at 3:20 PM EDT
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NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Four black Boeing employees who work at the Boeing facility in North Charleston have filed a racial discrimination lawsuit against the airplane maker.

Donta Alston, Kevin Austin, Jonathan Bennett and Joel Washington all say they have been discriminated against on the basis of race. The lawsuit was filed Tuesday in federal court.

Alston claims in the lawsuit that despite his experience, Boeing has used him to train “lesser qualified” and “better paid” workers who are white and that he has not been paid at similar levels to his “similarly situated” white coworkers. He alleges that he has asked for raises and asked why he hasn’t been paid similarly to his white coworkers, but claims these questions have been rebuffed and fallen on deaf ears.

Austin alleges he was demoted to a worse shift in the paint shop after he went out on workers’ compensation leave and claims only black employees were moved away from “C shift” while white employees were not demoted.

He also claims black employees have not been given lead position opportunities. In the lawsuit, Austin states he has been under a, “constant barrage of racial harassment, mistreatment, racially disparate mistreatment, workers’ compensation retaliation, and violation of Defendant’s own handbook policies procedures and promises.”

Bennett claims that one specific manager even showed racial favoritism toward white workers and put black workers in a paint shop building which he says was dirty and hazerdous. Washington makes similar complaints about the same manager and added that the manager held up his promotion for an extended period of time while allowing white employees to receive promotions over him.

All four are claiming racial discrimination, breach of contract under Boeing’s equal employment opportunity policy, and retaliation. They are requesting a jury trial.

Boeing spokesperson Libba Holland released a statement Thursday afternoon on behalf of the company:

Boeing adamantly denies the allegations in the lawsuit recently filed by four teammates in our paint organization. Diversity and inclusion are core to Boeing’s values, and we believe in treating every person with respect and dignity. Our teammates’ safety is our top priority, and we will continue to ensure that all teammates feel comfortable in their inclusive work environment. We do not tolerate discrimination and retaliation in the workplace, and we have many safeguards in place to ensure it does not occur. Boeing will continue to treat these teammates fairly as we treat all of our other teammates, but it will also vigorously defend itself.

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