Conference set in Reinhart race suit
HARRISBURG - A teleconference is scheduled Friday to determine deadlines in the federal lawsuit between Reinhart FoodService and a former employee who claims he was fired from the company's Coal Township facility in 2010 for his efforts to stop racial discrimination and a hostile work environment.
Ramon Torres, of 8 S. Franklin St., Shamokin, claims his co-workers and supervisors frequently used ethnic slurs relating to blacks and Hispanics during his five years of employment as a driver's helper between September 2005 and March 2010.
In court documents filed Jan. 7, the company's attorney, Adam M. Shienvold, of Eckert Seamans Cherin and Mellott LLC., Harrisburg, denies all the allegations against Reinhart.
According to the court documents, some Reinhart maintenance employees called Torres "Julio" because they thought that was his name, but when Reinhart advised those employees that his name was Ramon, they did not refer to him as Julio again.
The attorney requests the court to dismiss the complaint against Reinhart for multiple reasons, including that the complaint was not filed with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission within 90 days of the incident and it does not efficiently state a claim in which relief can be granted.
Furthermore, the attorney argued, any actions by Reinhart management are not motivated by "evil motive or intent" and such actions are "contrary to Reinhart's good faith efforts to enforce its anti-discrimination, anti-relation and harassment policies."
In the civil complaint filed Aug. 28, Torres, who was born in New York City to parents native to the Dominican Republic, claims he was also subjected to frequent incidents of unequal treatment and denied important equipment and extra pay for teaching drivers how to do their routes due to his race and Hispanic origin. He says he was threatened with discipline if he made any reports to corporate offices.
After he complained to supervisors, the company's ethics hotline and corporate offices, he was subjected to verbal abuse and then fired for "bogus reasons," he claims.
Reinhart is being accused of one count each of a hostile work environment and disparate treatment on account of race and Hispanic origin, and one count of unlawful retaliation.
In addition to court and attorney fees, Torres is seeking compensation for all pay and benefits he would have received had it not been for the company's actions, including back pay, front pay, interest, salary, pay increases, bonuses, insurance, benefits, training, promotions, retirement benefits and seniority.
He is also seeking compensatory damages for mental anguish, emotional distress, pain and suffering, and punitive damages in an amount believed by the court to be appropriate to punish Reinhart for its "willful, deliberate, malicious, reckless and outrageous conduct, and to deter the company or other employers from engaging in such misconduct in the future."
The "telephonic case management conference" will be held at 2 p.m. Friday between legal counsels.
The suit was filed in the U.S. Middle District Court via Torres's attorney, Marc E. Weinstein, of Weinstein Law Firm LLC, Trevose.
An order issued Feb. 1 gives Torres access to confidential files in relation to his employment at the Coal Township company. These documents include, but are not limited to, drug test results, work history, salary and information on job performance.