Local man accuses LNVA of racial discrimination

Kelly Holleran Jun. 13, 2011, 11:19am

A black man from China, Texas, claims he was denied promotions and was the victim of unequal punishment because of his skin color.

Eric Brisco Sr. filed a lawsuit June 6 in Jefferson County District Court against Lower Neches Valley Authority.

In his complaint, Brisco alleges he experienced various forms of racial discrimination throughout his tenure with LNVA. Brisco began working for the company on March 3, 1991, and claims he was forced to resign in May 2010.

Brisco claims he saw several white employees with less experience and seniority promoted to loftier positions than his and noticed white employees being treated better than their black counterparts, according to the complaint.

"White employees degraded black employees with profanity without discipline, but when black employees used profanity toward white employees, they were disciplined," the suit states.

In addition, a white supervisor was not punished for leaving a work site, forcing his black co-workers to complete the work alone, the complaint says.

Brisco, however, claims he was suspended for three days with no pay when he drove down a grassy hill with limited visibility, hit a hole and accidentally overturned a work vehicle.

According to the complaint, Brisco was repeatedly denied the chance to advance, despite computer classes he took in an attempt to obtain a computer skills job at the company.

He also attempted to land a job in a pumping plant where his mechanical skills could be put to use, but was also denied that opportunity, the complaint says.

"Mr. Brisco expressed this desire to LNVA management, and was told that there was 'nothing [he] could do' to get placed there and that 'even if he got a degree' he would not be placed in the pumping plant," the suit states. "During his last four years at LNVA, Plaintiff applied for numerous positions and received no consideration. The management of LNVA told Plaintiff not to waste his time, because the 'best [he] would ever do' was 'to sit in a truck.'"

Brisco claims few to no new black employees have been hired since general manager Scott Hall began working for the company. In fact, Brisco believed he was on a hit list of employees Hall wanted to fire.

On Dec. 8, 2008, while working, Brisco sustained an injury and sought medical treatment, according to the complaint. LNVA's workers' compensation doctor diagnosed Brisco with chronic tendonitis and ordered him to perform only light duty work -- no heavy lifting or repetitive movements, the suit states.

However, when Brisco approached LNVA supervisors of his doctors' orders, they told him there was no light duty for him, the complaint says.

When a white employee sustained an injury in February 2010, though, the white employee was placed on light duty, Brisco claims.

"Plaintiff, who was still suffering from tendonitis, asked specifically what the difference was between the injury of his co-worker and Plaintiff's injury, and why his co-worker could come to work on light duty and stay in the shop all day or drive around with the mechanic, while Plaintiff was required to perform his full job duties while injured," the suit states.

"Plaintiff requested the accommodations that were being made to his co-worker, namely, assignment of light duty.

"When Plaintiff requested these accommodations, he was immediately sent home on workers' compensation, which meant he was collecting a reduced rate of pay."

Tired of the alleged harassment, Brisco submitted his resignation in late May 2010, according to the complaint.

In his suit, Briso alleges employment discrimination, retaliation and disability discrimination and retaliation against LNVA.

Judge Donald Floyd, 172nd District Court, has been assigned to the case.

Case No. E190-221

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