White man sues PGW, claiming he was fired for reporting racism

Cherri Gregg
September 17, 2019 - 5:00 pm
Lawsuit filed against PGW by Joseph and Patricia Dean

Cherri Gregg/KYW Newsradio

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — A former employee sued Philadelphia Gas Works Tuesday, alleging discrimination and retaliation. He claims he was fired for reporting racist acts in the workplace. 

The federal lawsuit claims that PGW CEO Craig White and three others discriminated against the plaintiff, Joseph Dean, who is white. The suit alleges that Dean heard a white coworker frequently using racial slurs, like the N-word, when referring to black coworkers or black people in general. 

"As a human being, he was offended, and he didn't like it. And he reported it. And he suffered for it," says Isaac Green, an attorney who represents Dean.

Green says his client, who began working at PGW as a helper in December 2017, first reported the slurs to a white union rep in July 2018. Nothing happened. 

Two weeks later, Dean allegedly repeated the claims to a black supervisor, who brought the matter to PGW's human resources department, and the offending employee was soon after terminated.

"But that particular individual was related to someone in management at the company," says Green.

The complaint alleges that the company retaliated against Dean, saying he was ostracized and called a "rat." When he reported the alleged retaliatory abuse, Dean says he was fired. But that was just the beginning.

"He was subjected to being cyber-stalked. There were PGW vehicles being parked in front of his car," says Green. "We have video, we have emails, we have text messages and we have telephone recordings."

Green claims he filed multiple complaints to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, first for discrimination and then for post-termination harassment involving PGW vehicles following the plaintiff around after he found a new job.

"This has really torn the family up," he said. "The wife is being treated and my client is being treated for post-traumatic stress disorder and it's tough."

Dean's wife, Patricia, is also a named plaintiff in the suit. 

The lawsuit seeks damages in the form of back pay, as well as stress-related damages for discrimination and violations of free speech and equal protection under the Constitution.

A spokesperson for PGW says it cannot comment, because the company has not been served with the complaint.