Vanguard Group faces federal lawsuit over alleged racially discriminatory practices

Jon Campisi Aug. 10, 2011, 8:26am

Seven area black woman who claim their respective firings from the Vanguard Group were racially motivated have filed a federal lawsuit against the Malvern, Pa.-based company.

Through the lawsuit, the plaintiffs allege that their terminations violated the federal Civil Rights Act as well as the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act.

The lawsuit was filed Aug. 8 at the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania by Philadelphia attorneys Joe H. Tucker and Douglas K. Jenkins, of the Tucker Law Group.

The plaintiffs in the lawsuit are Tynnetta D. Kelly, Telissa Lindsey, Tiffany Gilbert and Cheryl Ingram, all of Philadelphia, as well as Tanya Gregory of Sicklerville, N.J., Tracey Parker of Coatesville, Pa., and Crystal Tucker of Downingtown, Pa.

“Vanguard fosters a racially hostile environment and discriminates against its black employees and against black women in particular in its performance evaluations, disciplinary procedures, departmental transfers and demotion and promotion procedures and compensation policies,” the lawsuit states.

“Indeed, Vanguard treats many/most of its black employees as outcasts rather than as valued or necessary members of the ‘crew.’”

The lawsuit claims that Vanguard’s “facially neutral policies” are used to create a climate of intolerance at its Malvern headquarters, where a majority of the employees are white.

The policies, the lawsuit states, disproportionately affect the black workforce.

According to the lawsuit, Vanguard “condones and perpetuates” a pattern of discrimination against its black employees, black women in particular, and then retaliates against them when claims of racial discrimination are raised.

In the case of the handful of plaintiffs, it is alleged that each has experienced “racially divisive and hostile treatment,” which included demeaning statements made by white supervisors.

Not only did that behavior take place, but the internal complaints made by the employees were dismissed, the lawsuit alleges.

“Plaintiffs reported the discriminatory treatment to their supervisors and/or Crew Relations, however, their complaints were dismissed without investigation or given cursory review and deemed insignificant,” the lawsuit states.

The lawsuit spells out specific instances when each of the seven plaintiffs experienced incidents of racial discrimination and retaliation.

Through the lawsuit, the plaintiff’s seek relief in a number of ways, including having a judge decree that Vanguard engages in racial discrimination, and having a judge issue a permanent prohibitory injunction ensuring that Vanguard stops its discriminatory practices.

The plaintiffs also seek back pay, front pay and past and future mental anguish and pain and suffering in amounts to be determined at trial. They also seek attorney’s fees and other court costs.

A jury trial has been demanded.

The federal case number is 2:11-cv-05076-EL.

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