Worker alleges job dismissal was racially motivated

By Dan Harkins | Aug 11, 2015

A worker is suing his former employer, alleging he was discriminated against and fired unjustly.

Joseph Sheriff filed a lawsuit July 28 in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania against Kehe Distributors Inc., Mark Cerniglia and Rose Paoletti.

According to the complaint, Sheriff, an African-American, was hired as a selector by Kehe on July 27, 2011, and worked in that role until he was fired Nov. 23, 2011. The

lawsuit says Sheriff initially was fired after being injured in a non-work-related assault during his first month of work but a was later reinstated.

Until being terminated, the lawsuit states, Sheriff encountered numerous issues with shelves not being stocked. Then, when he "complained to defendant Cerniglia that he was not assigning African-American selectors to [a] preferred position," the lawsuit states, Cerniglia allegedly said, "I can pick anyone I want, nigger." After complaining, the plaintiff was terminated, the suit says.

Sheriff seeks reinstatement, compensatory damages, declaratory and injunctive relief, back and front pay, pre- and post-judgment interest, attorney fees and court costs.

He is represented by attorney David L. Deratzian of Hahalis and Kounoupis in Bethlehem.

U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania case number 5:15-cv-04160-EGS.

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