Pleasanton Construction Firm Sued For Racial Discrimination - NBC Bay Area
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Pleasanton Construction Firm Sued For Racial Discrimination

Owners openly displayed Confederate flags and made racist commentary at the workplace, lawsuit says

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    A former project manager for a Pleasanton construction company filed a lawsuit against the company and its owners Thursday accusing them of racial discrimination and harassment and subjecting her to unwanted racial commentary and differential treatment. Christie Smith reports. (Published Thursday, June 8, 2017)

    A former project manager for a Pleasanton construction company filed a lawsuit against the company and its owners Thursday accusing them of racial discrimination and harassment and subjecting her to unwanted racial commentary and differential treatment.

    Filed in Alameda County Superior Court on behalf of Tishay Wright, a black woman, by San Francisco attorney Christopher Dolan, the suit alleges that Southland Construction Management Inc. and its owners, Kenneth and Anita Hayden, decorated their office with photographs of President Donald Trump and Confederate flags saying, "The Southland shall rise again."

    Tisha Wright's former boss at a Pleasanton construction company gave her this photo of himself posing in front of a Confederate flag dressed as Donald Trump.
    Photo credit: Courtesy of Tisha Wright

    Dolan said in a statement that the Haydens appeared to be "proud of their handiwork" and had photographs taken of themselves in front of the Confederate flag, which he said is "the offensive symbol of slavery," with Kenneth dressed as Donald Trump and Anita appearing to be a Trump supporter with a Confederate flag purse strung over her shoulder.

    Dolan said Kenneth Hayden later gave the purse to Wright as a Christmas gift at the company Christmas Party with the offensive photos of him and his wife inside.

    Wright said in the statement that she filed the suit "because no one should be treated this way in America in the year 2017."

    "This is not Alabama in the 1940s. This country is going backwards, and it has to stop," Wright said.

    Her attorney Dolan said, "This is just a sign of how people feel empowered by our current president, and his racist and sexist statements about women and minorities, to blatantly harass and discriminate against others."

    "The message couldn't be any clearer: 'I stand with Trump, and I'm racist. If you don't like it then get out of my business and out of my country,'" Dolan said.

    The suit also accuses Kenneth Hayden of assault and battery, saying that on one occasion he threw a cellphone at Wright, which then ricocheted off of her desk and hit her in the arm.

    The suit alleges Wright witnessed Kenneth and Anita Hayden making "racist comments" about other employees of different ethnicities at Southland, including Hispanic and Sikh employees.

    The suit, which says Wright worked at the company from June 22, 2015, until March 9 of this year, seeks unspecified general and punitive damages.

    Kenneth and Anita Hayden couldn't immediately be reached for comment.

    The company, which was founded in 2000, says on its website that, "Integrity and service are key for Southland Construction." The company says its mission is "to serve the construction needs of commercial, retail, and industrial businesses with integrity, quality and accountability, while meeting budgets and timelines in order to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ and restore honesty to the marketplace."

    The company says it "seeks to serve our customers, vendors and employees as we serve the Lord Jesus Christ" by displaying qualities such as "honesty, integrity, loyalty, respect for others and ourselves, perseverance, accountability and teamwork."

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