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.

The

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.

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