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California workers sue passenger train company

A number of both current and former employees at a popular passenger train company have accused the business of directly violating employment law by practicing racial discrimination. As a result, the slighted employees have brought a lawsuit forth, requesting compensation for the acts. This marks the second time that employees in California have introduced litigation against the company.

Amtrak is the company at the center of the lawsuit -- more particularly, the Amtrak station located in Oakland. That is where the two female and nine male African-American employees worked when they claimed they were subjected to racial discrimination. All of them worked in more menial positions, including janitorial work and cleaning out the trains.

Through their lawsuit, they claimed that they were consistently passed up for promotions based on their ethnicity. They also accused managers at the station of divvying out extra work for them to do based on their race, in addition to disciplining them in a stricter fashion. Two of the employees had reportedly been fired.

According to their lawyer, this discrimination was seen in the fact that they were almost all scheduled to work the late-night shifts as opposed to more traditional hours.

An African-American man who has worked with Amtrak for 23 years is considered the lead plaintiff in the case, and filed a complaint in court about how his fellow African-American employees were unfairly treated. The man said he was often passed up for promotions based on his race. He framed the argument by pointing to the fact that non-black employees with less qualification were promoted in front of him.

He started out by working day shifts, but then requested to be moved to the late-night shifts because he was being so overloaded with work that white employees were not asked to do.

When some of the employees complained about the treatment via an employee hotline, their complaints were ignored.

Officials for Amtrak did not offer a comment on the matter because company policy states they cannot speak about pending legal matters.

Source: Oakland Tribune, "Amtrak workers file race discrimination suit against passenger train giant," Angela Woodall, March 8, 2012

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