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Employees of PACE Transportation file suit claiming discrimination

Posted at 11:36 AM, Aug 26, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-26 18:25:01-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — A lawsuit was filed in Kent County Circuit Court this week in which two employees of PACE Transportation charge the company with discrimination.

In the suit, Javon Norman and Roman Arizola, both trailer mechanics, claim they have been “subjected to a culture of racism, that has been ignored, cultivated, and/or perpetrated” by the company and its employees, supervisors, managers, and others.

The suit describes Norman as Hispanic-African American and describes Arizola as Hispanic American. They filed the suit together.

The pair claims both men were called racist names, directly threatened with violence, told to “go back to Africa,” nooses were left around repeatedly, and that supervisors were aware of the harassment.

"You hear about these things and it’s devastating that it’s still going on,” said attorney Justin Maxim, who is representing the two. “They just want to go to work and not have to go through this on a day-to-day basis.”

The suit charges PACE with violating the state’s Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act.

“This is also not workplace banter and you can see that from the hard evidence we have and it corroborates what our clients are saying," said Maxim. “To leave without action is to leave this environment for the next person that comes through.”

In a statement to FOX17, the company said:

Pace Transportation Services does not condone racism, harassment, or discrimination of any form, and our response to this situation reflects our zero-tolerance policy toward any violation of our long-standing company policies. As soon as management was made aware of the complaint, the company immediately conducted a thorough investigation, resulting in disciplinary actions and terminations for those employees found to have violated company policies.

We are very troubled that this situation occurred within our company, and we sincerely apologize to Javon Norman and Roman Arizola. We have taken the concerns seriously from day one. The company will continue to implement processes to ensure these violations do not recur, including engaging an independent consultant to further train and educate our employees on diversity and inclusion.

We will continue to make every effort to improve and adapt our company’s culture to foster a safe, healthy and inclusive environment for our team.

The company is located in Byron Township. It also has locations in Indianapolis and Eagan, Minn., in the Minneapolis area.

Read the complaint (contains explicit references to racist slurs)