In what could be the first major class-action discrimination suit for the telecommunications industry, 302 current and former employees of Nextel Communications Inc. will file complaints of racial and sexual discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission over the next few weeks. Lawyers for the employees will seek permission to file lawsuits against Nextel in federal court under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, a measure that has been instrumental in fighting harassment and discrimination both in employment and in hiring practices. The employees will seek millions of dollars in damages, and seek to require Nextel “to make a multibillion-dollar commitment to sensitivity training and diversity in hiring and promotion.”
Complaints to be filed suggest, “minority employees are harassed and mistreated solely on the basis of their race.” The cases include claims of racial and sexual discrimination, and most of the employees filing complaints are black. They report being “passed over for raises or promotions” and many reported incidents of verbal harassment and derogatory comments made by supervisors and fellow workers.