AT&T Loses Racial Discrimination Lawsuit

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.