A man who has worked for the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority for more than three decades is suing the mass transit agency over claims that he was fired from his job in retaliation for complaining about disparate treatment, and that his subsequent reinstatement was delayed, also out of retaliation.
Robert Braddock, a Delaware resident, filed a federal civil rights suit on Oct. 22 at the Eastern District of Pennsylvania against SEPTA and two of its employees, Albert Matejik and John Jamison.
Braddock, who seeks more than $100,000 in damages, claims that he was terminated from his job of 32 years in April 2011 after he complained to Matejik, his then-supervisor, that Matejik was subjecting him to race discrimination.
The plaintiff, who is black, says he also reported the matter to SEPTA’s Equal Employment Office, explaining that he was being subjected to discrimination and a hostile work environment because of his race.
Soon after Braddock made his complaints he was selected for a random drug test, the complaint alleges.
At the end of May 2011, the suit states, Jamison, the defendant’s chief officer, discharged Braddock supposedly for conduct that was “insubordinate, unruly, and unprofessional.”
According to the lawsuit, Jamison told the plaintiff he was taking such action because two female employees had allegedly reported that Braddock had opened the door into a room and was observed standing in the doorway in his undergarments.
Braddock denied those allegations and claimed that he was actually fired for complaining about the discriminatory treatment.
“SEPTA accepted the false statements of the female Caucasian employees as fact, despite Plaintiff’s vehement denial of the allegations and the fact that there was no corroborating witness to such vexatious allegations,” the complaint reads.
The suit claims that at the time, SEPTA was aware of the fact that one of the female employees who lodged the complaint about the inappropriate behavior had previously berated Braddock on the phone when the plaintiff was the woman’s supervisor.
The complaint further alleges that despite the fact that SEPTA’s management, including Matejik, listened to a recorded message that confirmed the woman was insubordinate to Braddock, the female employee was never disciplined by the defendants.
After his termination, Braddock retained legal counsel and appealed his termination.
During a September 2011 hearing, it was determined that the firing was without just cause and in violation of Braddock’s due process rights.
SEPTA was then ordered to reinstate Braddock to his former position.
The lawsuit claims, however, that SEPTA further retaliated against Braddock by delaying both the plaintiff’s reinstatement and back pay.
Braddock, the suit claims, has sustained “significant economic loss as a result of Defendants’ race discrimination and retaliatory actions.”
The complaint accuses SEPTA of violating the federal Civil Rights Act and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act.
In addition to the $100,000 in compensatory damages, Braddock also seeks unspecified punitive damages, as well as back pay, lost benefits, interest, attorneys’ fees, expert witness fees and other court relief.
The plaintiff is being represented by Philadelphia attorney Olugbenga O. Abiona.
The federal case number is 2:13-cv-06171-TON.