Former cook accuses alternative school of racial discrimination

By Jim Boyle | Jul 21, 2014

A Montgomery County man says that his supervisors in the kitchen of an alternative

A Montgomery County man says that his supervisors in the kitchen of an alternative

school managed by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia used racially discriminatory language and practices during his short tenure as a cook, according to a civil suit filed at the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

Jonchristopher Savage of Norristown seeks compensatory damages in the form of back pay and lost future wages starting from the first report of alleged wrongdoing to the time of a final verdict. He also seeks punitive damages, saying the school willfully violated his civil rights and wrongfully terminated his employment.

According to the complaint, Savage started working for St. Gabriel's Hall in Norristown in September 2013. St. Gabriel's is a non-profit residential program that provides young boys aged 10 to 18 years old with psychological, psychiatric, individual, group and family therapy, as well as a year-round academic program and career and technical education. The Archdiocese of Philadelphia oversees operations for the school and sets all guidelines and policies.

Hired as first cook, Savage was to be trained to work in St. Gabriel's Hall by his direct manager. Instead, the claim says, she consistently used inappropriate language and made discriminatory comments to Savage, an African-American man with a degree in culinary arts. Savage says that his Caucasian supervisor treated him differently from his non-black co-workers by yelling at him, ordering him to perform demeaning work and making his job more difficult by allegedly sabotaging his work.

The complaint says numerous reports of the mistreatment were made to upper management, but nothing was done to remedy the situation. Finally, Savage was placed on paid leave during the investigation of the claims. In February 2014, human resources informed Savage that nothing substantial was uncovered to support his claim and that he was terminated.

Savage contends that he was subjected to a hostile work environment, involuntarily placed on leave and terminated for unlawful reasons. The plaintiff says those actions constitute discrimination and retaliatory behavior.

He is represented by Bucks County attorney Ari Karpf in Bensalem.

The federal case ID number is 2:14-cv-04332-CMR.

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