Suit: P&L security targeted minorities for ‘takedowns’
A lawsuit claims that members of the private security force at the Power & Light District used racial slurs and targeted minorities for arrests and “takedowns.”
The plaintiff, John Jacob, worked for the security company, Chesley Brown International, from February to July 2008. Jacob says he heard Tom Whitener and another supervisor make sexually inappropriate comments and use the terms “nigger,” “spick” and “wetback” to describe patrons and employees.
The suit says Jacob reported the conduct to the director of security, an assistant director of security, a human-relations specialist and, ultimately, the regional manager. Shortly thereafter, the suit claims, Jacob received the first of three write-ups.
On June 27, 2008, the suit says, Whitener and another security officer
subjected an off-duty P&L parking valet to an “inappropriate
detention.” Jacob’s lawyers say the valet, who is African-American, was
assisting a co-worker by moving a stool. The suit says Whitener and the
second officer stopped the valet, Kollin Woodbury, who identified
himself and his purpose. But as Woodbury turned to walk away, Whitener
put him on the ground, the lawyers say.
Jacob, who had responded
to the call, provided information about contacting the authorities to
the Woodbury’s fiancee, according to the suit. This prompted a
superior, Gary Magers, to complain in a memo that Jacob’s actions
represented a “conflict of interest”
Jacob registered a final complaint on July 22, the suit says; two days later, he was fired.
suit names Chesley Brown, which is based in Atlanta, and Whitener as
defendants. Jacob’s lawyers argue that state law protects his
complaints against retaliation.
Chesley Brown CEO Victoria
Boothe did not return a phone call. A representative of the Cordish
Co., the Power & Light District’s developer, did not respond to an
e-mail. Whitener lives in Jefferson City. He did not immediately return
a phone call.
Jacob’s lawyers at Holman Schiavone also represent Woodbury. Holman Schiavone lawyer Tom Ralston tells The Pitch
that Woodbury suffered a dislocated shoulder during the incident
outlined in Jacob’s lawsuit. Ralston says Woodbury plans to sue Chesley
Brown, as well.