CHICAGO — For the fifth time in the past 10 years, Canadian National Railway Co. (CN) and its wholly owned subsidiary, Illinois Central Railroad Co. (IC), have been named defendants in a lawsuit alleging racial discrimination.
Branstetter, Stranch & Jennings, PLLC (BS&J) of Nashville, Tennessee, has filed a lawsuit on behalf of plaintiff Tracy Miller, who was employed with IC and CN from 1994 to 2019. The suit seeks redress for alleged racial discrimination and retaliation, listing multiple times when Miller, who is African-American and served as a general manager for more than 12 years, was passed over for promotion to the position of vice president of Operations. Instead, the company consistently chose to promote white individuals to that title, despite Miller having more experience and an employee service record that noted he consistently exceeded expectations and was well-regarded by peers.
Additionally, when Miller received an offer of employment with industry competitor Canadian Pacific Railway, CN used a non-compete covenant based on the exercise of stock options to prevent him from accepting the job. The same covenant went unenforced in multiple cases where white executives accepted employment with other industry competitors.
The lawsuit, which was filed Friday, March 8, 2019, in the United States District Court for the Western District of Tennessee at Memphis, alleges that the defendants’ actions constitute racial discrimination and intentional interference with business relationships. Miller seeks damages in the form of lost compensation and benefits, compensatory damages for the emotional distress and reputational injury he has suffered because of the defendants’ actions, and attorney fees and costs.
“This lawsuit was filed on behalf of a gentleman who demonstrated a consistent sense of company loyalty and who maintained a spotless service record for more than two decades,” said attorney Joe P. Leniski Jr. of BS&J, a law firm focused on labor and employment law. “Mr. Miller did everything that CN asked of him, including moving his family throughout the U.S. and Canada five times in 10 years, all while watching other individuals with less experience be granted the title he sought to earn. When Mr. Miller was presented the opportunity to advance with a different company, CN threatened legal action under a covenant that, to date, has not been enacted against white employees. Because of this, Mr. Miller has now sustained damages in the form of lost compensation, career advancement and reputation. He has also suffered emotional distress and frustration. All of this comes as a result of the defendants’ unlawful discrimination against him, which appears to be based on his race.”
The lawsuit alleges that CN not only refused to promote Miller because of his race, but has unfairly prohibited him from accepting new and better opportunities within the industry he has worked his entire life.
“Mr. Miller takes great pride in his work,” said Leniski. “This is a man who has proven himself successful, reliable and trustworthy over many years of service. In return for his loyalty, CN systematically overlooked him and intentionally held him back when he attempted to better his situation for himself and his family. This is the fifth time in ten years that such a complaint has been made against CN, and we are bringing this claim not only in the effort to restore Mr. Miller’s right to pursue excellence in his career, but to also bring awareness to CN’s actions in the hope that others do not have to suffer the same kind of discrimination.”
Additional information about the suit can be found at www.bsjfirm.com.
About Branstetter, Stranch & Jennings, PLLC (www.bsjfirm.com)
For more than 65 years, Branstetter, Stranch & Jennings, PLLC has been known for the quality of its advocacy and the integrity of its attorneys. The firm enjoys a national reputation of prominence in the complex litigation arena for its work in class actions, shareholder derivative claims, securities, ERISA, labor and employment, and other complex cases, both at the trial and appellate levels.
Branstetter, Stranch & Jennings, PLLC is dedicated to providing a full range of legal services to its diverse clientele. In addition to providing quality legal services, the firm is proud of the professional and civic leadership its members have provided, both locally and nationally. The firm’s former managing partner, Jane Branstetter Stranch, was nominated by President Obama to the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, and now serves as a judge on that court following her confirmation by the U.S. Senate. Branstetter, Stranch & Jennings, PLLC is listed in the Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers, and was named among “Best Law Firms” by U.S. News & World Report for 2019, receiving the highest possible Nashville ranking as a Tier 1 in two practice areas.