Racial discrimination alleged in suit against Alton and Southern

Ann Knef Dec. 18, 2006, 5:08am

An employee of Alton and Southern Railway says he was subjected to a racially hostile work environment in a suit filed Dec. 14 in St. Clair County Circuit Court.

Seeking relief under the Civil Rights Act and the Illinois Human Rights Act, Tracy Jackson of St. Louis claims co-workers repeatedly called him "buckwheat" in an attempt to insult and humiliate him. Jackson is seeking in excess of $50,000 in damages for suffering serious mental injuries which he claims are permanent in nature.

Jackson, who was employed as a yard master, alleges the incidents took place between June and July of this year.

A yard master controls the movement of trains and freight.

Jackson claims he has not and can not return to his position as a result of racial discrimination and the continuing hostile work environment.

According to the suit, all of Jackson's supervisors and upper management were white. The suit states that Jackson is African American.

"Alton and Southern Railway Company's lack of action to correct the concerted pattern of harassment created a racially hostile and offensive work environment and interfered with Mr. Jackson's ability to do his work," the complaint states.

Jackson is represented by Ronald A. Roth of Roth, Evans & Lading in Granite City.

The suit claims the railroad segregated working teams into "black" crews and "white" crews.

"During the periods of June 2006 through July 2006 the employees of the Alton and Southern Railway Company continually called and referred to Tracy Jackson as 'buckwheat'," the complaint states.

He claims he suffers from depression, helplessness, sleeplessness, anxiety, mood swings and anger.

The suit states that Jackson exhausted all available administrative remedies and received a "Notice of Suit Rights" letter on Oct. 31 from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

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