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November 30, 2001
150 AT&T Workers Charge Discrimination
A third of the employees have already made formal complaints with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
The remainder of the complaints are expected to be made by the end of the year, said Lenard Leeds, a partner in Leeds, Morelli & Brown, the law firm involved in the case. To proceed with a federal lawsuit, an employee must first file a complaint with the EEOC.
AT&T spokeswoman Cindy Neale said the company was "completely unaware" of the charges and therefore couldn't comment on them further.
According to the Times, the complaints involve a broad spectrum of discrimination, including numerous accusations of sexual harassment. Some employees contend they were treated unfairly because they are disabled, while others point to their age, race, sex or national origin.
"There seems to be a systematic showing of disparate treatment," Leeds told the newspaper. He went on to say that many employees believe AT&T either ignored their complaints or punished them for speaking out.
Leeds said complaints had surfaced among former and current employees in at least nine states - including New York and New Jersey - who work in jobs ranging from engineers to sales representatives to managers. "We're hearing the same kinds of things all over the country," he said.
Donna Daniels, a black woman in Colorado who has worked in technical support for AT&T since 1992, said she had been sexually harassed by her supervisors. The behavior is "very hostile and very intimidating," she said, adding that offensive comments and inappropriate behavior occurred daily.
She charged in her complaint that one supervisor asked her to "come over to my house and take off your panties."
"I was treated as a sexual object, not a hard-working employee deserving of respect," she said in the complaint.
Other employees say that they were discriminated against because of disabilities. In Georgia, Raymond Baskin, who joined AT&T in 1968, said in his complaint that he was harassed because he had developed rheumatoid arthritis.
Another employee, Melinda Nolbert, filed a complaint that said the company refused to accommodate her by moving her work closer to her home, even though she has sleep apnea and multiple sclerosis.
T is accused of discrimination by about 150 employees, who may file federal lawsuits, The New York Times reports.