Compass faces $200m racial discrimination suit

Compass, the British catering giant, will be served with a $200m (£130m) class-action lawsuit today alleging systemic racial discrimination against black workers in the United States.

The FTSE-100 company is accused of allowing managers at its business in Philadelphia to racially abuse, discriminate against and harass African-American employees. Compass declined to comment. The law suit, to be filed in the US district court for the eastern district of Pennsylvania, has been brought by 11 current and former employees in Compass's catering operation at Philadelphia's Comcast Center, the city's tallest building, which opened in June. If the plaintiffs' request for the case to be made a class action tried by jury is granted by the court, it could draw in more members of the proposed class.

The world's biggest catering company is accused of failing to stop its black employees at the Comcast Center from being called names such as "nigger", "monkey" and "gorilla". Among other claims, it is alleged that black staff were forced to eat lunch in the locker room and to clean up after white workers. At the centre of the complaints is Derek Vogelman, Compass's executive chef at the landmark tower. It is alleged that Mr Vogelman routinely used racist language towards black employees, including referring to them as "Chim-Chim", the name of a pet chimpanzee in the film Speed Racer.

Mr Vogelman is also accused of referring to fast-working black emp-loyees as "Carl Lewis", the name of the former black Olympic sprint champion. The plaintiffs claim Mr Vogelman carried on using racist language when asked to stop and that his managers refused to take action to change his behaviour.

The lawsuit also alleges that Compass's Flik division, which has the Comcast Center contract, only allows white employees to work in front of guests at private catering functions at the tower, with black staff consigned to the kitchen or excluded entirely.

Compass allegedly brought in white employees from another of its subsidiaries to work front of house at events at the Comcast Center to avoid African-Americans serving guests directly. The plaintiffs claim they and other black employees complained to Compass's management and human resources in the US about discrimination. They allege that the company's investigations were "inadequate and superficial" and that Compass failed to put in place procedures to detect and correct discriminatory practices.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executive - Affiliates & Partnerships

£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This multi-award winning foreig...

Recruitment Genius: Retirement Coordinator - Financial Services

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: To provide a prompt, friendly and efficient se...

Recruitment Genius: Annuities / Pensions Administrator

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: You will be the first point of contact for all...

Ashdown Group: HR, Payroll & Benefits Officer - Altrincham - up to £24,000.

£18000 - £24000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: HR, Payroll & Benefits Of...

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor