PHILADELPHIA (CN) – A longtime lawyer with the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) claims the agency has a glass ceiling for black attorneys – even though it plastered his image on trains and buses during Black History Month as a portrait of black accomplishment.
“During Black History Month, defendants posted posters with plaintiff’s picture on trains and buses stating that plaintiff was one of its best employees,” Raymond Grier says in his federal civil rights complaint.
Grier’s image and biography are featured on a SEPTA Web page titled “Diversity: Stories of SEPTA Employees.”
But Grier, whom SEPTA hired as a trial attorney in 1990, says, “SEPTA’s Legal Department has a history of discriminating against African-Americans.”
Grier says he’s been denied five promotions in the past eight years, and that all the promotions have gone to Caucasians.
He says, “There has never been an African American attorney in a supervisory position in the entire existence of SEPTA’s Legal Department,” and that no African-American attorney has been promoted there in the past three decades.
Grier says he’s occupied the same position, Trial Attorney I, for 20 years, and that when he applied for a promotion to Trail Attorney II, SEPTA gave the job to a less experienced Caucasian who had been with the agency for barely three years.
Grier sued SEPTA, its general counsel Nicholas Staffeiri and two SEPTA attorneys, alleging racial discrimination.
He seeks a promotion, back pay, front pay, lost income, and punitive damages.
He is represented by Olugbenga Abiona.
A SEPTA spokesman declined to comment on pending litigation.