GALVESTON - Two Galveston County residents are suing a privately-owned industrial contracting company for terminating them after the plaintiffs complained about racism on the job.

Laperisa Locket and Rochelle Johnson allege they were the consistent targets of bigotry because of their African American heritage when they worked for Trey Industries at the Marathon facility in Texas City a couple of summers ago.

"At all relevant times, the plaintiffs were qualified for the positions they held and the positions that they applied for during their employment with the defendant," their suit, which was filed Sept. 30 in Galveston County District Court, says.

"The defendant, Trey Industries, terminated the plaintiffs because of their race and color."

Court documents show the plaintiffs were employed by the defendant as helpers to an iron worker named Joe Luce from June 29, 2007 to Aug. 16, 2007.

Locket and Johnson claim Luce, a Caucasian, would call them "n*****s" and bluntly express his disdain for blacks.

Locket recalls Luce labeling him as lazy while Johnson states the same man visually threatened her with violence during a truck ride by hanging a rope around a doll's neck.

The complainants say they tried to address their grievances to no avail.

Luce learned about Locket and Johnson's meetings with upper management thus escalated his attacks, the suit says.

It adds Luce removed Locket from his team and replaced the latter with a white man.

The plaintiffs were then dismissed.

"After the termination of plaintiffs, the defendant hired other laborers and continued to work at the Marathon plant as well as in other plants in the area," the suit says.

"However, the defendant never offered the plaintiffs any other positions after they were laid off."

No prompt remedial action was taken to stop the racist behavior, the plaintiffs argue.

"As a result of the defendants' discriminatory actions, the plaintiffs have suffered loss of wages as well as emotional pain, mental anguish, suffering, inconvenience, loss of enjoyment of life in the past, and in probability will continue to suffer in the future," the suit says.

The plaintiffs, who are represented by Houston attorneys Steven E. Petrou and Stanley P. Santire, seek unspecified monetary damages and a jury trial.

Galveston County 122nd District Court Judge John Ellisor is presiding over the case.

Case No. 09CV1806

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