HARRISBURG - A Wilkes-Barre man is suing his former employer, alleging race and age discrimination were the reasons he was terminated from his job.

Cornel Crawford filed a lawsuit July 10 in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania against Sears Logistics Services Inc. of Wilkes-Barre, alleging violations of the Civil Rights Act, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act.

According to the complaint, Crawford, an African-American older than 40, was hired by Sears Logistics in 1997 and was working as a material handler at the time he was terminated. The suit states toward the beginning of a 10-hour shift on a hot day in July 2013, Crawford took a regularly scheduled break and went into the break room of the Hanover Township warehouse facility, looked for bottled water in a cooler and found none.

The lawsuit states bottled water was provided to workers in the past on hot days, and, as Crawford walked to his locker, he loudly said "Where's the water?" with the comment not being directed at anyone in particular.

The filing states Crawford's supervisor heard the comment and, after the break ended, Crawford was called into a meeting where he was told he was the only person complaining about the water situation and that he should go home and not come back until he was informed to do so.

Crawford received a letter a few days later saying he was terminated for violating company policy. Crawford contends he was never informed of the specific policy that he allegedly violated and was never disciplined during his 15-year career with the defendant, and was even awarded a positive coaching memo in April 2013 that honored his work performance.

Crawford alleges he was terminated because of his race and age, saying Sears Logistics treated him less favorably than similarly situated employees who were Caucasian and younger. The suit says white and younger employees who had actually violated company policy faced little to no disciplinary measures.

Crawford seeks lost wages and benefits, compensatory, punitive and liquidated damages, attorney fees, court costs and other relief deemed appropriate by the court. He is represented by attorney Michael McGrath of Koff, Mangan, Vullo & Gartley, in Kingston.

U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania case number: 3:15-cv-01357-ARC.

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