A man of Nigerian descent who works as an electrical engineer for a Chester County company has filed a discrimination lawsuit against the business over claims that he has been denied job advancement because of his nationality.
Peters Abhulimen is suing Coatesville, Pa.-based ArcelorMittal Steel USA for violations of the Civil Rights Act in relation to the racially influenced disparaging treatment he allegedly has received while working for the defendant.
The plaintiff claims that in addition to having to toil in a “racist work environment,” he has been denied promotions, and has been twice suspended without justification, all due to his African heritage.
The lawsuit claims that Abhulimen complained to management about racist language and communication that he found to be offensive, but that company officials failed to take any rectifying action to address the claims.
“Defendant ArcelorMittal’s response to this racially offensive workplace was insufficient, both in terms of any investigation that may or may not have been conducted, and in terms of the lack of any systematic response that such egregious acts should have prompted,” the civil action reads. “Defendant ArcelorMittal does not have an adequately-enforced policy prohibiting discrimination and harassment based on race and national origin, nor did they have one during the time period when Plaintiff was suffering discrimination and harassment based upon race and national origin in his workplace.”
The lawsuit claims that the racism began on Feb. 19, 2008, a mere week after the plaintiff began working at the plant.
It has allegedly continued on a daily basis ever since.
The harassment has included name-calling and threatening behavior, the suit claims.
A supervisor once allegedly told the plaintiff that “a black man would never be a white man’s boss.”
Abhulimen also claims that he has had bananas placed in and around his office, and that white employees have been told that they should not consort with the plaintiff because of his race.
Abhulimen also maintains that he has been excluded from managerial meetings because he is black.
“Plaintiff claims that he was subjected to a period of more than five years with a continuous pattern of targeted racist treatment that hindered his career development, was exemplified in disparate work assignments, Plaintiff being denied opportunity and increased pay, and the creation of bogus performance reviews to legitimize racist treatment,” the lawsuit states. “This caused Plaintiff severe emotional distress and other medical issues and Plaintiff’s complaints were ignored by management.”
The plaintiff seeks unspecified compensatory damages in addition to attorney’s fees, costs and disbursements.
Abhulimen is being represented by Philadelphia attorney Stephen T. O’Hanlon.
The federal case number is 2:13-cv-03949-MMB.