By Gloria Campisi
Philadelphia Daily News
By GLORIA CAMPISI email@example.com 215-854-5935
It may be the ultimate indignity.
Lawrence "Lonnie" Powell, 58, a semiskilled laborer at the city's Northwest Transfer Station, in Roxborough, said that since he began working at the trash-handling plant in 2003 he has had to seek the superintendent's permission to go to the bathroom — then descend five flights of stairs to use it.
Powell, who is black, said that white employees have been permitted to use a bathroom just 25 feet from his work station.
"On several occasions I've actually defecated on myself, trying to get down to the bathroom," said Powell, who operates a machine that packs trash into tractor-trailers to be taken to landfills.
Powell is one of five current and former employees, all in their 50s, who allege, in legal documents and interviews with the Daily News, that the station's white superintendent has discriminated against them because they are black.
The superintendent, John Gill, has not responded substantively to Daily News requests for comment.
Clarena I.W. Tolson, commissioner of the city's Streets Department, which runs the station, declined to discuss the matter and referred questions to the City Solicitor's Office.
An assistant city solicitor has denied the black workers' allegations.
Separate facilities alleged
Among those allegations is that for several years Gill has kept a "supervisor's bathroom," one flight up from Gill's office, that "only the white employees were allowed to use...whether or not they were supervisors," Powell wrote in an affidavit last month.
"Quite often, while I'm up there, I could be sitting in my booth, and I see white guys going into the bathroom," Powell said in an interview. "They walk right by the door and go right in the bathroom there. That's maybe 25 feet away from where I'm at."
But when he has to go to the bathroom, he said, he has to go down to Gill's office to get permission, then descend five more flights.
( A case 'out of the 1950s'Collapse )
And why do these fools always try to excuse their behavior with "It was just a joke"? Find a new excuse; that one doesn't work anymore.