- Black sanitation workers in Memphis and Millington, Tennessee have filed U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charges against Republic Services for alleged racial discrimination and retaliation, as reported by The Commercial Appeal.
- According to a July 10 complaint filed by Teamsters truck driver Kevin Clark, Republic and operations manager Drew Boyer have "engaged in continuous efforts to make work conditions hostile and malicious for me and other similarly situated Black Truck Drivers." Patterns of discrimination, Clark told the Appeal, include docked paychecks for vacation pay (in violation of the union's contract), unsafe start times and retaliatory discipline for more outspoken workers.
- "Republic's sanitation workers risk their lives every day to protect the public health, in the fifth most dangerous job in America," James Jones, president of Teamsters Local 667, said in a statement. "It is outrageous that Republic takes in $10 billion a year and that Bill Gates gets about $100 million in stock dividends each year, yet the company discriminates against African-American workers here in Memphis."
The EEOC complaint outlines hostile actions taken since August 2018 against Republic's black drivers, including "substantially and intentionally" shortened paychecks, uprooted bidding routes, sudden changes in schedules and work locations, and meritless discipline.
"An example [of the paycheck shortening] occurred when a Black Driver had his paycheck reduce to 260.40 due to an alleged deficiency in his holiday pay and the difference has not been explained or justified," Clark noted in the complaint. "I am not aware of any White Driver who has his paycheck reduced to that similar level."
Clark also alleges Republic has falsely cited black drivers for workplace misconduct.
"There have been two Black Truck Drivers who received disciplinary write ups for alleged workplace misconduct on days in which they were not on the clock," the complaint reads. "[Republic] continues to cite Black Truck Drivers for workplace misconduct and violations. [Republic] presented no credible evidence to sustain the disciplinary actions against the Black Drivers."
"It is truly a shame that 50 years after Dr. King was assassinated in Memphis, this company still thinks it can treat drivers any way it wants," William Cleaves, a driver at Republic in Millington, said in a statement. "We are still men."
In a statement to Waste Dive, a Republic spokesperson declined to comment on "ongoing legal matters" but emphasized the company's "commitment to fostering a workplace that is safe and free from discrimination, harassment, intimidation and retaliation."
This isn't Republic's first encounter with the EEOC. The company was ordered to pay nearly $3 million in September 2010 for terminating and mistreating Nevada workers — some of whom had been employed by Republic for more than 25 years — on account of their age.