Berkeley man accuses ex-employer of racial discrimination

By Cara Bailey | Oct 12, 2007

MARTINSBURG - A Berkeley County man has filed a suit against his former employer, claiming he was a victim of racial discrimination at work.

Lester T. Pigford filed a suit Sept. 7 in Berkeley Circuit Court against Quebecor World Fairfield Inc., a corporation doing business in Martinsburg.

Thomas Shellhammer, the human resources manager at Quebecor's printing plant, and supervisors R.C. Campbell and Kenny DeHaven are also named as defendants.

According to the suit, Pigford claims he was racially harassed at work because he is black. He claims he was the only black man on his shift.

Pigford claims he was constantly harassed by DeHaven.

"On one occasion, defendant Kenny DeHaven made a small hanging noose and began swinging it in front of the plaintiff," the suit says.

Pigford claims he complained to his supervisor and the human resource director, but nothing was done.

DeHaven eventually became Pigford's supervisor and continued to harass him.

According to the suit, Pigford heard through a co-worker that DeHaven and bindery supervisor Mark Ackley "were out to get him."

On April 30, 2007, Pigford went to work with a headache. He took aspirin and sat down on several boxes next to the machine he was operating.

According to the suit, he stood up to fill the cover feeder and empty the cold glue when Shellhammer walked past. He then sat back down and closed his eyes. Campbell approached Pigford and asked him if he was okay. Pigford replied that he had a headache, but he did not need to go home.

When Pigford returned to work, he found out he had been fired for allegedly sleeping on the job.

In the three-count suit, Pigford claims he was really fired because of his race. He seeks compensatory and punitive damages.

Attorney Harry P. Waddell is representing Pigford. The case has been assigned to Judge Gray Silver.

Berkeley Circuit Court case number 07-C-888

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