Beaumont women sue employer for race and gender discrimination

Michelle Massey, East Texas Bureau Sep. 23, 2010, 5:37am

Two African-American women have filed a federal lawsuit against their Dallas employer for race and gender discrimination.

Claiming their civil rights were violated, Beaumont residents Lantoinette Wise and Marla Landry filed suit against Chicago Bridge & Iron Co., also known as CB&I and CB&I Inc., on Sept. 17 in the Eastern District of Texas, Beaumont Division.

According to the complaint, Wise was hired by CB&I in February 2006 and shortly thereafter was moved to a human resources generalist position.

Wise alleges she was discriminated against when she was relegated to a backup position and denied work, project assignments and training. Three years later on Sept. 14, 2009, Wise spoke to her supervisor about the differential treatment and filed a complaint with the Compliance Hotline. She was terminated two days later, the suit states.

Plaintiff Landry was hired by the defendant in October 2007 as a lead recruiter and was later transferred to a craft human resources manager position. Landry states her supervisor brought an e-mail to her attention that stated "there are no people of other color in supervision, except in the labor department."

Landry said she attempted to speak to her supervisor every week about the discrimination issue. Further, Landry claims she voiced opposition to the defendant's practice of hiring workers based on referrals from existing employees.

She claims the discrimination did not change, but instead her job performance was criticized and she was labeled as disloyal. Landry states she was terminated from her position after she contacted a CB&I attorney to protest the termination of an employee who was disabled with cancer and hospitalized.

The defendant is accused of race, color and gender discrimination and unlawful retaliation, including disparate treatment and denial of benefits.

The plaintiffs are asking the court to issue a permanent injunction prohibiting the defendants from further acts of discrimination and for an award of back pay, front pay, compensatory damages for mental anguish, suffering, anxiety, stress, humiliation, ability to enjoy life and medical care, punitive damages, court costs, attorney fees and interest.

Wise and Landry are represented by Mickey L. Washington and Cletus P. Ernster III of Washington and Ernster in Houston.

Jury trial is requested.

Case No. 1:10-cv-00580

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