A Black former employee of the companies that supply operations personnel for Foothill Transit is suing his ex-employers, alleging he was wrongfully fired earlier this year because of his ethnicity and for complaining about being harassed due to his color.
Darryl Lyons’ Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit names as defendants Transdev Services Inc. and its Arcadia-based parent company, Transdev North America Inc., which both have a multimillion-dollar contract with Foothill Transit to provide bus operation services, according to the lawsuit. Foothill Transit is not a defendant.
“Since taking over the Foothill contract in 2014, Transdev has created a workplace rife with hostility toward its black employees,” according to the suit, which alleges race discrimination, racial harassment, retaliation, failure to prevent harassment, discrimination or retaliation, wrongful termination and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
The suit filed Thursday seeks unspecified damages.
A Transdev spokesman issued a statement Friday regarding the suit.
“The company has received the complaint and we are currently evaluating it,” the statement read. “Unfortunately, we are unable to make additional comments about pending litigation.”
When Transdev took over from Foothill’s previous contractor, it hired many of the previous company’s Black managers, drivers and staff, the suit states.
“Over the years, however, Transdev deliberately and systematically removed people of color, especially Black people, from leadership positions and replaced them with white managers,” the suit alleges.
William Jackson, who died in January, was white and was the general manager of Transdev’s Foothill contract in Arcadia and Timothy Grensavitch, also white, was an operations manager at Transdev’s Irwindale location, the suit states.
Lyons began working for First Transit, Transdev’s predecessor, in February 2005 as a bus driver and was later promoted to dispatcher, the suit states. He worked at the time of his firing at Transdev’s Arcadia facility, the suit states.
“But despite Mr. Lyons’ stellar performance, he was systematically targeted and terminated based on the color of his skin,” the suit states.
Jackson often became angry with Black Transdev employees and would aggressively threaten to “kick” their posterior and would routinely yell at them “at the top of his lungs,” the suit alleges.
Jackson routinely referred to Lyons’ Black colleagues as “black (epithets)” both in private and in the presence of other employees, according to the suit.
Before firing a Black operations manager without good reason, Jackson said, the “dumb black (epithet) doesn’t know what she’s doing.” the suit states.
Grensavitch called a Black Transdev employee a (N-word) and would regularly use that term in front of Black employees, the suit alleges.
Lyons filed a complaint with Transdev’s human resources helpline and another with the corporate helpline, but no one ever followed up on his case, the suit states.
Shortly after complaining about Jackson’s alleged behavior, Lyons’ supervisors started to retaliate against him, reporting him for frivolous and fabricated reasons, the suit states.
Lyons also filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
“Mr. Lyons learned that no matter how he performed, Transdev would find some pretextual basis to punish him,” the suit alleges. ” Mr. Lyons was terrified with the prospect of losing his job.”
At the age of 58, Lyons feared for the first time in his life that he might become homeless, the suit states.
Lyons lost significant weight due to stress and also began to lose his hair, the suit states. He was subsequently suspended for three days on a false allegation of bullying a work colleague and when he returned in April, he was subsequently placed on administrative leave on equally wrong allegations regarding his scheduling of a bus driver, the suit states.
Lyons was not allowed to return to work and was told during a hearing with Grensavitch that he was fired, the suit states.
“Now Mr. Lyons is without a job and without health insurance,” the suit states. ” As a result, Mr. Lyons is unable to afford insulin to treat his diabetes and similarly unable to afford treatment for his high blood pressure, lymphedema, neuropathy, rheumatoid arthritis and anxiety.”
Lyons lives in fear of suffering a stroke, heart attack or going into a diabetic coma, the suit states.