Illinois Central Railroad Co. Sued After Racist Attack and Death Threat, According to Worker's Legal Team

Feb 04, 2014, 11:22 ET from Katz, Marshall & Banks LLP and Valorem Law Group

CHICAGO and WASHINGTON, Feb. 4, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- A Chicago-area railroad worker alleges in a federal lawsuit that he was violently assaulted and taunted with racial slurs at work and then threatened with death after reporting the incident to his employer, Illinois Central Railroad Co., according to his lawyers at Katz, Marshall & Banks LLP and Valorem Law Group.

Solomon Perry, who worked for Illinois Central Railroad Co. as a conductor and engineer trainee from 2008 to 2012, was attacked at the company's Markham Yard in Chicago on Nov. 10, 2012. He was forcefully grabbed by two white coworkers, one of whom cut his long hair and repeatedly slurred him in front of other railroad employees, the lawsuit alleges.

Mr. Perry, who is represented by Lisa J. Banks, of Katz, Marshall & Banks LLP, of Washington, D.C., and Stuart J. Chanen, of Valorem Law Group, of Chicago, is asserting discrimination, harassment and retaliation claims in the lawsuit.

The defendants are Illinois Central Railroad Co., former railroad conductor Louis Busch, who led the attack on Mr. Perry and was criminally convicted of assault in March 2013 in Cook County Circuit Court; Kirk Carroll, a railroad general manager; and Mark Hightower, a railroad branch manager.

The lawsuit alleges Illinois Central Railroad Co. refused to adequately investigate the racial and religious motivation for the assault on Mr. Perry, who practices the Rasta religion, as well as reports by several employees about threats made against him. The railroad also is accused of allowing African American employees to be subjected to persistent racial slurs and graffiti, including Nazi swastikas, racial slurs beginning with "n," and taunts and threats by other employees and managers in the workplace.

In Mr. Perry's case, according to the lawsuit, after he "reported the racist assault and was at home on leave, someone left a dead rat on his doorstep and delivered a written death threat to his home to intimidate him and keep him from testifying against his co-workers at a company hearing." He also reported surveillance of his home by some of the individuals that attacked and taunted him.

Lisa J. Banks, of Katz, Marshall & Banks LLP, said, "The railroad utterly failed to investigate or otherwise take reasonable steps to ensure Mr. Perry's physical safety in the face of racially motivated threats at the workplace, instead insisting that Mr. Perry return to work in a racially hostile environment. When they made Mr. Perry choose between returning to a workplace where his life was at risk or giving up his job, the railroad essentially fired him. The railroad destroyed the career of a productive, well regarded employee who had every expectation of success."

Stuart J. Chanen, of Valorem Law Group, said, "For far too long, Illinois Central Railroad has allowed a hostile racial environment to thrive in its workplace, purposefully ignoring the racist graffiti and slurs that poisoned the relationships among employees. It was this environment that led to the attack on Mr. Perry, and the railroad has made absolutely clear its level of concern about such attacks: it continues to do absolutely nothing to discipline those involved or to change the work environment so that such attacks and other racist incidents don't continue."

In the related criminal proceeding in Cook County Circuit Court, the judge in the case repeatedly asked prosecutors why the case had not been referred as a federal felony hate crime.

At the time of the Perry attack, Illinois Central Railroad was operating under a federal court consent order related to a 2010 settlement by its parent company, Canadian National Railway Co., of claims that included allegations of systemic workplace race discrimination in its subsidiaries.

Ms. Banks added, "Even while Illinois Central Railroad was operating under a consent decree at the time of the attack on Mr. Perry, neither the railroad nor its parent company took actions to prevent the kind of attack that happened to him."

The new case is "Solomon Perry v. Illinois Central Railroad Co., et al.," Civil Action No. 14-CV-756 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.

Contact: Erin Powers, Powers MediaWorks LLC, for Katz, Marshall & Banks LLP and Valorem Law Group, 281.703.6000,

SOURCE Katz, Marshall & Banks LLP and Valorem Law Group