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Union suing Hammond company for racial discrimination

Updated: February 13, 2013 6:11AM



A union is suing a Hammond company, claiming it has systematically racially discriminated against its employees.

The Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees filed the suit Friday in U.S. District Court in Hammond against the Indiana Harbor Belt Rail Road.

The union says in the suit that the railroad company, which operates its main line from Northwest Indiana to O’Hare International Airport and has yards in Hammond, East Chicago and Riverdale, Ill., forced its black employees to work in a hostile environment since October 2010.

Supervisors denied training to black employees that would help them gain promotions, enforced rules against them it didn’t enforce against other employees and allowed racist comments, according to the union.

For instance, the lawsuit says, one supervisor of the railroad showed off a swastika tattoo to employees to intimidate them.

Another employee, who is no longer with the company, told black employees, “You will never see a (discriminatory word) working that machine,” according to the suit.

Other employees saw a noose hung in the business on Dec. 7.

The union is asking for damages and that the court issue an injunction against the company to stop similar acts in the future.



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