AT&T Loses Racial Discrimination Lawsuit

Sales representative awarded more than $400,000

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A Dallas jury ruled AT&T Corp. racially discriminated against a worker and ordered the telecommunications giant to pay damages in the lawsuit.

Lakecious Edwards, an AT&T sales representative, was awarded $411,339 late last month after the jury found race was a motivating factor in the company’s repeated failure to promote her. The jury also found that AT&T created a hostile work environment and retaliated against Edwards when she complained.

“Ms. Edwards and her coworkers suffered pervasive discrimination and did everything they could to work within AT&T’s system,” says Stephen Drinnon, Edwards’ attorney.

The telecommunications giant says they had no wrongdoing in the matter. “We are confident that we have done nothing wrong and we are exploring our options regarding a possible appeal,” says Marty Richter, an AT&T spokesman. Furthermore, he says “AT&T has an excellent track record when it comes to the company’s fair treatment of minority employees. For AT&T, diversity and inclusion will always be top priorities.”

According to Drinnon, Edwards was passed over on three separate occasions for promotions that went to white employees, two of whom were under disciplinary review. When another job opening was posted, the same manager falsely told AT&T managers that Edwards was not interested in the job.

An eight-year-employee of AT&T, Edwards continues to work at the company. “She continues to fear loosing her job,” Drinnon says.

Drinnon contends that complaints that were filed went through a third party vendor and weren’t properly investigated. He said the manager named in the complaints wasn’t interviewed by investigators or reprimanded for her actions. Subsequently, AT&T ruled “no finding of discrimination” for nine complaints that had been filed against the manager.

Drinnon says Edwards and others who filed complaints were “never told that the case had been closed or the conclusion they reached,” he adds.

Also last month, BLACK ENTERPRISE named AT&T one of the 40 best companies for diversity. “The companies in its special report demonstrated strength and outperformed their peers in one or more of four key categories: supplier diversity, senior management, board involvement, and employee base,” the magazine said in a press release announcing the list.

ACROSS THE WEB
  • http://blackenterprise.com/diversity/diversity-news/2008/08/12/att-loses-racial-discrimination-lawsuit/ AT&T EEOC Complainer Too

    I recently filed a complaint with the EEOC against AT&T. This is exactly like my experience, exactly.

    A friend sent this article to me and it was reassuring until the last paragraph. It’s incongruous to the rest of the article and comes off as a judgment by BlackEnterprise on the case. Had I read the article referenced in the last paragraph of this article, I would not have expected what I got, or saw others getting. This makes me wonder was BlackEnterprise taking responsibility or sides?

    This article accompanied the BlackEnterprise article my friend sent: http://hr.blr.com/news.aspx?id=7572 . Also exactly what I experienced daily. Racial, Age, Religious, Disability…treated like a joke, openly mocked, as a rule not an exception…I hope more people will come forward, yet do not doubt they will due to the relentless day to day activity such as this.

    We must quench these threats to our civil liberties every time. It’s our duty to ourselves, the next generation and the world. It’s time we learned to treat each other better and let people know that this is not acceptable or a joke. Stand up for someone today, I’m sure they need it and you know who you are.

  • zinoma

    AT&T still has a large problem on their hands. These are postings I found from one of their new freelance IT employees:

    http://osdir.com/ml/recreation.humor.sidesplitters/2006/msg00094.html

    http://osdir.com/ml/recreation.humor.sidesplitters/2006/msg00270.html

    • Coins Of America

      Very nice site your site, I prefer it, mind if I send your link to a few friends?

  • Mike Thomas

    AT&T does not stand by it’s minority employees. I’m a National Retail Account Executive and one of my accounts Best Buy has wrongfully accused me of inappropriate behavior. The first incident occurred less than 8 months ago and my manager threaten to fire me without giving me an opportunity to defend myself or refute the bogus petty charges that were file against me by 2 young inexperienced, immature Best Buy employees. This incident was reported to the AT&T HR employee representative. However, a proper and thorough investigation was never conducted by the management of AT&T. I was suspended without pay for 6 weeks and my manager and her boss had the audacity to take the store manager of the Best Buy employee who falsely accused me out to lunch. My manager never apologized to me for violating my rights as an employee and she was never punished by the management at AT&T.

    The saga continues. In Dec 08 my manager claims that she received a written complaint about me from another one of my Best Buy stores.The charges that were filed against me by this phantom BestBuy employee were petty and totally false. However, my manager and supervisor never discussed this matter with me until almost a month later. I was not aware that a complaint had been filed against me until my supervisor and his boss, without my knowledge or consent, decided to ambush me in front of my peers,while I was working at Wal-Mart, which is another one of our 3 party vendor.

    I was escorted by my managers to the back of the Wal-Marts warehouse to a room that looked like and had been set up for the stores LP to perform interrogation on shop lifters. I was never given an opportunity to defend myself or refute those bogus charges. In addition, I was never shown a copy of this letter of complaint. Furthermore, I was also written up based on this so called letter of complaint. In other words, I was being punished by my manager before a proper investigation had been conducted. In American a person is presumed to be innocent until proven guilty. I guess the managers at AT&T think that they’re above the law.

    This incident was reported to my Director of Sales but he ignored it. In addition, I also reported this incident to the AT&T Ethics hotline and the representative who was assigned to my case told me that she could not help me and she advised me to work with my local management, the same people who had just violated my rights, in order to resolve this issue.

    My life at AT&T is now a living hell. For example, my manager have created a hostile work environment for me by forcing me to drive to our Corp HQ, which is almost 100 miles and 2 1/2 hours commute twice a month for additional training.

    In addition, as a form of retaliation my manager has realigned my territory by giving me stores that have lower sales volume and require me to travel in additional 200 miles a month, for which I don’t get paid for.

    I’m at my breaking point! The trust that I had for my managers has been breached. I feel that the only way that I can get this issue resolved is to file a formal complaint against AT&T with the EEOC or the Department of Labor.

    I’m also looking for a good EEOC attorney. Can you guys help me?

    • latonja

      when i read your statement it was like looking in the mirror. please contact me asap.

      • Phil

        Class action lawsuit go for it.

  • Former AT&T Employee

    I am a former employee of AT&T and left my job because an assistant manager made several racist remarks to me and upper management ignored it completely. I filed a complaint and it was never addressed. I am glad that the AT&T employee in this article was brave enough to sue the company. The poor behavior of AT&T management needs to stop.

  • current at&t employee

    I am a current at&t employee going through a similar situation. I am a service representative who has been with the company for 9 years I have watched on the sidelines while discrimination, unfair treatment, and plain unprofessional behavior goes on around me including an array of sexual harrassment and mistreatment of certain employees because management does not like them.They reprimand you for speaking up and will do almost anything to make your job a living hell, if you are a target.I have become a target in the past 2 years, I am a single mother and just do my best to come to work and receive a paycheck for the well-being of my family yet it is becoming more difficult each day as they find ways to discipline and demean me.I am really fed up and ready to file a lawsuit against the company, something needs to be done.The union cannot help, asset protection does not help.I am a hard working american citizen and deserve to be treated fairly.I’ve seen so many cases where no one says or does anything they just accept the punishment, I have carried this burden for too long and plan to take action, the stories on this site have helped me see that my office is not the only office this is happening in this seems to be a companywide practice that I am determined to stop.

  • Lu

    can you please advise me of how to also be provided with an Attorney for a lawsuit things like this is happening here at our ATT location and I have just been falsely accused and suspended for something that was truly unfair I have been with the company for 10 years and they are now stating that I did something that was totally taken out of content

  • RB

    ALL, Be encouraged. I can truly identify with this treatment. I am a former AT&T manager for 12 years. Be bold and pursue action. I am currently doing so. Be blessed!

  • fomer at&t employee

    Stay stong, start the eeoc process. It does take quite awhile to go through the process though. I started mine in October, and have not come to a resolution to date. Mainly because at&t continues to stall in providing requested information. At this point a subpeona had to be ordered to recieve the requested information their trying to hide, that would clear me of the infraction I was accused and discharged for. The EEOC needs to see one of two things either a clear case of discrimination which would lead to a “Cause” letter in your favor being sent out in which you would be represented in the case by an EEOC attorney. Another action that could be taken is what’s called a “Right to Sue” letter where they may not be clear cut evidence one way or the other which allows you to take it to court with your own attorney. Good Luck some of us know exactly what you all are going through.

  • sue

    I worked for AT&T in their small business department. They had set up an extremely hostile environment. They continued to use a “reverse” racism in the office I was in and if you didn’t cheat the customers and give them services they didn’t need they wanted you out. AT&T does not care about the employees nor their customers they want their money and they don’t care how you get it..Integrity is not a word in their dictionary. I was let go this year for performance on sales which nobody was making due to the economy but again if you didn’t play their games they wanted you out and especially if you weren’t one of them. I am far from being prejudice and that is what hurt the most. I am not the only one this happened to..and I should have contacted the EEOC about this because this center needs to be shut down or given a whole new management!

    • Anna

      you have 365 days from the time of your firing to file. even if you are still working there, file!! and make sure you have every copy of your letters you got when you met with a manager and union steward, make sure they all have RTS or refuse to sign! Do not sign anything but your paycheck! I did mine in december of 2009 and my employer was found guilty, that is what the EEOC is for, if every one files, trust me, the top guys gonna get tired of losing lawsuits and some changes are going to happen and heads that cause the drama will roll!
      good luck and get started asap.

  • Ernest, South Florida

    Less than a week ago, I decided to resigned from AT&T because of the inconsistent merit system in place for Black employees. For three years I have experienced blatant racism at the hands of AT&T’s managers and white employees as though it was the norm. The straw that broke the camel’s back for me is when a white employee, who happened to have been a manager at one point and has been fired from AT&T before, pulled my chair out as I was sitting, causing me to fall and hurt my back. This happened in the company break room. Where does anyone go in this world to seek employment and expect a fellow employee to do such a thing and expect to get away with it? AT&T. The environment in place is such that white racist managers and employees can abuse anyone of color, at anytime, and it aught to be acceptable.
    My complaints, like all my complaints before this, were continuously ignored by upper management, and my job was even threatened by the Union Vice President for complaining. Yes, the Union threatened my job for complaining. The same people I pay my Union dues to. So, the million dollar question is “who do I turn to for help when the Union and management are both working together? When they are on the same team?”
    AT&T is by far the most Racist company I have had the misfortune to work for, and the sad part of it all is that people are afraid to speak up for their rights. The two people that chose to speak out on my behalf are white, and guess what? They were both fired. The person that pulled my chair out is still happily employed. As a matter of fact, he just became the Union Shop Steward in the group we all worked in. How crazy is that. You just cannot make this stuff up.
    Something has to be done about this type of behavior by AT&T. It just cannot go unpunished.
    I am asking for help by any Attorney out there that’s willing to listen to my story. I am also calling on all conscious citizens of the world, not just Blacks, to Boycott AT&T for their unfair and inhumane way they treat people of color and those who take a stand, to do the right thing, for people of color.
    Thanks for you support and understanding.

    BOYCOTT THE RACIST AT&T

    • williams

      hello i am going thru the same thing at my center. i am still employed but i am now seeking help from my attorney.engough is engouh. people say the meanest things to me and i just dont say anything but i am sick and tired of being sick and tired. i dont do or say anything to anybody and look how i get treated

  • Ernest, South Florida

    10.

    Less than a week ago, I decided to resigned from AT&T because of the inconsistent merit system in place for Black employees. For three years I have experienced blatant racism at the hands of AT&T’s managers and white employees as though it was the norm. The straw that broke the camel’s back for me is when a white employee, who happened to have been a manager at one point and has been fired from AT&T before, pulled my chair out as I was sitting, causing me to fall and hurt my back. This happened in the company break room. Where does anyone go in this world to seek employment and expect a fellow employee to do such a thing and expect to get away with it? AT&T. The environment in place is such that white racist managers and employees can abuse anyone of color, at anytime, and it aught to be acceptable.
    My complaints, like all my complaints before this, were continuously ignored by upper management, and my job was even threatened by the Union Vice President for complaining. Yes, the Union threatened my job for complaining. The same people I pay my Union dues to. So, the million dollar question is “who do I turn to for help when the Union and management are both working together? When they are on the same team?”
    AT&T is by far the most Racist company I have had the misfortune to work for, and the sad part of it all is that people are afraid to speak up for their rights. The two people that chose to speak out on my behalf are white, and guess what? They were both fired. The person that pulled my chair out is still happily employed. As a matter of fact, he just became the Union Shop Steward in the group we all worked in. How crazy is that. You just cannot make this stuff up.
    Something has to be done about this type of behavior by AT&T. It just cannot go unpunished.
    I am asking for help by any Attorney out there that’s willing to listen to my story. I am also calling on all conscious citizens of the world, not just Blacks, to Boycott AT&T for their unfair and inhumane way they treat people of color and those who take a stand, to do the right thing, for people of color.
    Thanks for you support and understanding.

    BOYCOTT THE RACIST AT&T

    Reply
    Ernest, South Florida on August 13th, 2009 at 6:24 am

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  • B Smith

    Sounds like they need to do a class action lawsuit. The more people the better. When you go up against a corporate giant like ATT you need all the help you can get. It’s ashame that people will stoop so low. Pray is also my advice…it will do a world of good, and the ones doing wrong will get theirs in due time. It’s a shame people can be so ignorant.

  • madison

    I was an AT&T employee. During my fifth year with the company a hangmans noose was placed in the crew room by a white employee. I asked the union steward to remove it. He refused. I went to management to express my concern. I was told I had to file a report. I told management I did not want to make an issue. I was told by management I could be disciplined for not filing a report. I filed the report and was outed before the crew by management. I was transfered two days after my report. I was reprimanded by my new white manager for filing the report. He told me it was only a joke and that I was causing the company problems. I filed a grievance with the union regarding the matter. I filed a cause with the EEOC. The union, AT&T and myself met regarding the matter and signed an agreement that the matter should not affect my future with the company. I filed a complaint with EEOC. The EEOC ruled the matter closed because I was transferred. Almost ten years after being transferred from the manager who reprimanded me, he was again my manager. He told me in front of one of my co-workers I ate dog food. He told several of my co-workers I disgust him and he had been keeping up with me over the years. He told them AT&T sends him to garages to fire problem employees and if I didn’t watch myself I would be fired. Month after month I endured a hostile work environment. The manager told me I caused the company problems in the past and he was not going to allow me to continue to do so. He said that I disgust him. I was placed on steps of discipline while he overlooked infractions by my co-workers. He said he was using me as an example.k I was eventually fired after 13 and a half years service.

  • Nequetta Thompson

    I also worked for AT&T and had problems with managenmet after making complaints. I was terminated just before I could retire on bogus charges. Get this anyone know what a bad debt customer is? I had two which I cancelled advertising on for the next issues. The customer was over 90 day’s past due. In Los Angeles the company had just changed over to the new system from ims to css funny thing is the outside rep’s were not trained to retire the accounts using voice verification, no sig etc. So I was termintated for this reason. I had became a target for two manager’s. I had never been suspended before only written up because of e-mails complaining about management. I was forced to work in a hostile environment and the manager’s made sure to talk about me to my co-workers which created a hostile environment for me to work in. At one point there was only one manager in the office where I was located and to help her create this environment the manager let the rep’s run the office and tell her what to do. I filed complaints with the eeoc and other agencies and they did nothing. Even when I complained about the GM not hiring blacks. The eeoc asked the wrong question. The question that they should have asked was how many black’s had been hired since the new GM came to the office. The question that the eeoc asked was how many blacks worked under the GM. The anwser is only one black male. After my complaint to the eeoc she did hire one black female all the other blacks were there before she came. What I have found out is that the agency does not do any investigation for some reason they just rule in AT&T’s favor. Funny thing I had a sexuall harassment complaint againt the company I found out that my witnesses were never contacted by the eeoc. The eeoc also do not cover violations of fmla so AT&T just gets away with all of the violations and the reason that they continue to do these things is because no oneis willing to stop them. So I guess you could say that AT&T is above the law. Black enterprise you should have interveiwed some of AT&T’s employee’s. My white co-worker’s can violate the code of conduct and still keep their jobs. Oh and what about GM’s at AT&T who pull gun’s on rep’s. I bet that is one law suit that will never get filed. The GM still is employed with the company. I have many more of these kinds of stories. The union what a joke. Why did AT&T not pay me overtime oh I was a salaried employee not according to the union handbook or the company book but no one could get AT&T to pay me. The company need’s to get rid of all of the management or at least most. Most of the manager’s could not and did not make it as sale’s rep so they became manager’s because somebody liked them.Get this I know one manager that did not make new rep training. How many people were terminated because of new rep training? the manager liked this rep and the company the rule just this one time so that this rep could keep the job now the rep is a manager. I guess with css it is making it a little harder for the manager’s to cheet wonder how many of the same reps will be going to ceo.

    • Pimchanok

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  • Current AT&T employee

    Your last paragraph has thrown me for a loop! Black Enterprise behavior is the same that I had received from AT&T human resource and EEO spokesman; It’s No Big Deal!
    AT&T attitude and behavior is that they are so big, they dont have to answer to anyone and that they are above everone!
    I am currently going through discrimination, harrassment & retailiation with AT&T, charges pending with the EEOC. I will not get into the specifics right now but will update once the investigations is completed. My evidence is solid and I am very aware of the trump cards the managers will try to place against me which is made up lies that have no substance. I look at my harrassers as “to and fro”, they are blinded by their hate and prejudice ways. I have no negative actions in my files nor have had any. What I can say based on what i am experiencing is that AT&T supports this type of behavior yet wants to be recognized as a company who supports diversity w/ NAACP, Community Network etc.,while hiding under a dark mask. Their beliefs (AT&T) is that management must stick together (based on two good friends in management who wants to keep as a secret). I have had people come to me “Thanking” me for standing and hopes that it opens the door for what they are experiencing. They are so afraid to speak up! I hope my situation brings light to the darkness that prevails in this company! I will keep you informed.

  • Current AT&T employee

    I have read each one of your stories and I can relate to the hurt you are experiencing. AT&T stalls with the EEOC about responding to the affidavits the EEOC submits to them, they do work with the union, they ignore your complaints and the third party vendor they use to take your complaints is not thorough and their own EEO works for management and use the information you supply to them to use against you. I know because I have experienced it. Hopefully, an attorney will take all this into account along with the many other stories that have not been told to help bring the giant to their knees. I am sure GOD has finished it, he is waiting on the proper people to respond and start it. They know who they are!

  • http://www.linkedin.com/in/finusrascoe Finus Rascoe

    I was recently terminated for violating their latest version of their Business Code of Conduct. My Area Manager had asset protection investigate me for utilizing FMLA for my lower back problem. After investigating for several weeks, they found no wrong doing; however, during the course of their investigation, they found that I had a run in with local authorities that resulted in several tickets being issued to me. Apparently I need to notify my immediate supervisor of any moving violations, citations, arrest, etc… This I was unaware of, moreover, my personal life should not be probable cause to terminate unless it is interfering with my job responsibilities. I have been with the company almost 10 years and have never been on steps for attendance or performance. In fact I have letters of recommendation in my file and was referred to as the top 10% performer in my department. I need a lawyer, because I feel that my fundamental civil rights are being violated. In fact all of AT&T employee’s fundamental Civil rights are being violated with these tweaked versions of their code of business conduct. Your personal life is just that, “Personal”. I have filled a case with the EEOC, but we all know how that’s going to ultimately end.

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  • Yvette

    I have to refer to the the post from Nequetta Thompson October 2nd 2009.

    The fact of the matter is that I worked with this person and everyday, she wanted to do things her way. She disregarded company rules, did as she pleased and then wanted to cry wolf when things did not go her way. Imagine that! Her character speaks for itself. She came to work hung over from days of partying; smelling like 3 day old alcohol, she a known marijuana user; way before paying for a bogus license, and then to top it off, she is playing depressed and crazy. So her elevator is short of the top floor. Ask anyone about her character and then. Whats the bottom line———She is crazy really. It’s no act and she wants to bring everyone misery.

  • ang

    omg this was very helpful i work at att call center been there for 4 yrs i dont experience discrimation because of race but definitely if u use FMLA which is needed in this stressful job i suffer from
    bad depression because of this job i dont want to quit because ill feel like a failure also we are in a small town and att pay is good however my stats are not meeting by .50% and i feel that my manager is using this as an excuse to get rid of me they can do anything they want at att i kno that there are people whos stats are way worst than mines however my manager has me on a performance improvement plan and the sad thing is my stats continue to improve i used fmla for 3 months and came to work less than a week within those past months i feel my manager is discriminating because of this but i have no idea who to speak to about this and union is a joke!!

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  • http://Blackenterprise att former employee

    I am a former employee of ATT, in the state of Indiana. They came after me because they heard charges were filed against a manager in New Albany, Indiana for racist slurrs that included my name.
    Hell began soon after. I filed with the eeoc, and the big billion dollar companies play with them like their nothing. They stall and take their time. Just think after firing me the garage is down to 1 african american tech. to 40 white techs. Now he’s on the ropes but they are taking their time with him because of my charges. They won’t make the mistake of getting rid of the last black man left in New albany, Indiana, without just cause. I had never been in trouble beside an 10 year old cell phone bill, and they fired me without warning after 12 years. I called my manager a racist and lost my job. I wasn’t the one who filed the charge but i was the one that got fired. Att know are firing people left and right trying to right a wrong in New Albany, people are scared to stand up and say something in fear of losing their jobs. What union? The company bought them a long time ago!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Remember i never been wrote up or suspended in the last ten years, but because of racism in America i’m jobless after 12 year of excellent service my file says just that.

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