Cable company denies race-based firing, wants case dropped

By Kelly Holleran | Oct 15, 2009

CHARLESTON – A cable company denies it fired a black man because of his race and says a lawsuit he filed against the company should be dismissed.

JWCF, which is referred to as Baker Installation in a complaint plaintiff Marc Dean filed in Kanawha Circuit Court, admits it fired Dean because he lied on paperwork concerning a job assignment, but denies it was guilty of racial discrimination as Dean alleged in his complaint.

According to Dean's complaint filed April 6 in Kanawha Circuit Court, Dean began working for JWCF as a cable installer on April 24, 2004.

At first, Dean was assigned to work in Charleston, but was later transferred to the Teays Valley office, where he worked with six other black workers, the suit states.

Soon after he began his employment, Dean encountered a racially hostile environment, the complaint says.

"Plaintiff asserts that blacks inclusive of himself were differentially treated than that of his white counterparts," the suit states. "Black employees were directed to work assignments in remote areas of the city were (sic) they were subjected to racial harassment. Blacks as that of the plaintiff were given clean up jobs that the white employees had failed to complete and/or had done incorrectly."

An example Dean uses to demonstrate the racism he encountered is that he was forced to sign a disciplinary reprimand under threat of termination after leaving equipment at customer's residence. Dean claims a dispatcher ordered him to leave the equipment at the house.

In another example, Dean says he received a complaint that he had failed to complete a job assignment on June 21, 2007. Dean accompanied his supervisor to the job site to prove that he had completed his work, according to the complaint.

Afterward, the supervisor promised to call and indicate a correction concerning the job completion, the suit states.

However, the following day, Dean was accused of lying on his paperwork and was fired, the complaint says.

Dean claims he still has not received his vacation time and other benefits he was owed after his firing.

"As a result of the failure of defendant to compensate him for his benefit, defendants continue to discriminate against plaintiff unjustly," the suit states.

JWCF admits that it fired Dean, but not because of racial discrimination. Instead, it contends Dean was right to say he was terminated after he was accused of lying on his paperwork.

Other complaints Dean filed with the West Virginia Human Rights Commission and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission were dismissed as both commissions found there was no probable cause to believe JWCF was guilty of racial discrimination, JWCF says.

As a result, it is asking the federal court to also dismiss Dean's complaint and to award it costs.

Because the issues that Dean brings forth in his complaint are a question of federal law, his complaint belongs in federal court, say JWCF, which removed the case to U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia on Sept. 16.

Eunice L. Green of Dunbar will be representing Dean.

Barbara G. Arnold of MacCorkle, Lavender and Sweeney in Charleston will be representing JWCF.

U.S. District Court case number: 2:09-1007

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