PG&E Employee Sues For Race Discrimination and Retaliation

A longtime PG&E employee sued the utility company for discrimination, claiming he was subjected to a hostile work environment based on his race. The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in December 2021.

Emanuel Lankford, a San Francisco resident, worked for PG&E for more than 15 years. He is currently employed as a substation supervisor at the company.

Lankford, who is African American, claimed he faced retaliation for speaking up about the discrimination. He was allegedly denied bonuses and overlooked for promotions, which were awarded to white coworkers instead. According to the lawsuit, Lankford interviewed for a managerial position, but PG&E gave the job to a white employee who had no substation experience.

A hostile work environment is one in which workplace harassment is so severe and pervasive that it becomes intolerable, hurting the employee’s ability to do their job. The harassing or discriminatory conduct is unlawful if it is based on a legally protected class. In this case, the discrimination was based on race, but there are many other characteristics protected under California law such as gender, age, national origin and disability.

The lawsuit is seeking $15 million in compensatory and punitive damages. Lankford is hoping that taking legal action will urge the company to make “some meaningful, sustainable change” to how it treats workers.

Besides Lankford’s lawsuit, PG&E faced an earlier discrimination claim from an African American former employee in Sacramento. She alleged she was wrongfully terminated in retaliation for complaining about discrimination at the utility.

Discriminating against a worker based on their race is unlawful in California. If you have suffered race discrimination in the workplace, you can hold your employer accountable for the illegal treatment. Discuss your situation with an Oakland employment lawyer at Erlich Law Firm. We can help you pursue compensation through an employment lawsuit.

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