Oil worker files racial discrimination lawsuit over supervisor's comments about Obama

Michelle Keahey, East Texas Bureau Jun. 3, 2011, 4:23am

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MARSHALL - An oil worker has filed a racial discrimination lawsuit against his former employer after his supervisor made derogatory remarks about the worker and about President Barack Obama.

Claiming violations of his civil rights, Ronnie Harris filed suit against Turman Well Service Inc. on May 23 in the Eastern District of Texas, Marshall Division.

Harris was hired by the defendant in 2008 as a derrick hand, a position he retained until his termination in August 2010.

According to the allegations, Harris was supervised by a "virulent racist" who made the workplace racially hostile through continuous racial insults. Harris states that his supervisor repeatedly referred to him by a racial epithet and refused to let Harris ride in his truck.

The supervisor is also accused of racial discrimination by stating he would have only Mexicans working for him.

Harris states the supervisor also made derogatory remarks about President Obama, specifically stating that Obama was "planting watermelons at the White House." After making complaints about the racial discrimination, Harris was terminated by the supervisor.

The plaintiff is asking the court to issue an injunction preventing the defendant from continuing to discriminate against the plaintiff and for an award of back pay, front pay, reinstatement, retroactive seniority, compensatory damages for loss of reputation, loss of enjoyment of life and severe emotional distress, punitive damages and attorney's fees.

Harris is represented by Steven B. Thorpe and Carla S. Hatcher of Thorpe, Hatcher & Washington in Dallas.

A jury trial is requested.

U.S. District Judge T. John Ward is assigned to the case.

Case No. 2:11-cv-00264

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