CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — A former manager at a North Carolina-based security company says in a lawsuit that she was fired because of her race and for raising concerns about what she said was a culture of racism.
The 18-page lawsuit was filed last week in Superior Court in Mecklenburg County, and names CPI Security Systems and CEO Kenneth Gill as defendants, The Charlotte Observer reported. It details what former call center director Kelley Phelps said is a “deep-seated culture of racism” at the company that eventually led to her retaliatory firing in August 2020 after 20 years with the company.
Phelps was told not to hire people with dreadlocks, and that Gill told a tanned employee “if you get any darker, we’ll have to seat you at the back of the bus,” the lawsuit said.
In a statement to the newspaper, CPI Security noted that the company is 42% racially diverse, but a spokeswoman declined further comment.
Last year, when a Charlotte activist called for action in the wake of the death of George Floyd, Gill told the activist to focus on Black-on-Black crime. Gill apologized for the comment, but the Carolina Panthers, the Charlotte Hornets and two universities canceled partnerships with CPI over the comment.