A former employee of Saratoga Springs-based Logistics One Transport has filed a Federal lawsuit after allegedly enduring years of racial slurs, harassment, and discrimination by the company and it’s employees. Logistics One, which began carrier operations in 1994 according to the FMCSA operates over 600,000 sq. feet of warehouse in New York, and employs 67 drivers. The company also operates a brokerage division and an international freight forwarding division.
The federal complaint, filed June 16th in the Northern District of New York alleges serious unlawful discriminatory practice because of race and national origin, hostile work environment and retaliation by Logistics One.
The plaintiff, Kamel Prude, an African-American man started at Logistics One in December, 2015 as a dispatcher working the night shift from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. dispatching Logistics One employee drivers. The complaint alleges that one of Logistics One’s drivers, identified as Mark Murphy in the complaint, continuously used numerous derogatory racial slurs including “black-[xxx]”, “raccoon”, “coon” and “Uncle Tom” in conversations with Prude in the course of their conversations.
Prude notified and complained to his immediate supervisor, who then reported the alleged discrimination to his supervisor, the Thomas Moss, the Director of Transportation at Logistics One. According to the complaint, Prude was told to “try and be the bigger person.” In other words, the complaint alleges, Prude was to “take his discrimination like a man and stop complaining.”
Then in January, 2017 Prude alleged that another one of Logistics One’s employees renamed and referred to Martin Luther King Jr. Day as “the [derogatory term]’s birthday.” Prude again followed company procedure and escalated the derogatory comment to his manager and HR department. The complaint alleges that while Logistics plus ‘determined that “black-[xxx]”, “raccoon”, “coon” and “Uncle Tom” were acceptable, the term used by the driver was not and counseled the driver’ on his use of racial slurs.
The driver, identified in the complaint as Ward Trackey later clarified his comment in an email dated January 28th. 2019 to the New York State Division of Human Rights in which he confirmed using the racial term to describe Martin Luther King Jr. Day, but that the use of the term was not directed at Prude and that he thought Prude was “a better person than this,” in response to the investigation. Trackey also noted that he left Logistics One in September 2017 in the letter.
Prude also alleges that in another conversation with another driver, the driver complained about “city guys” relocating upstate and “messing up property values.” Prude asked the driver what he meant, and according to the complaint the driver ‘expounded that “blacks” and “Hispanics” are all on welfare while he works hard and struggles.’ Prude again followed procedure and reported the incident to his supervisor only to be told to “hold his head up.”
The complaint describes yet another incident in May of 2017 when another employee of Logistics One, identified as Christopher LaBarge began referring to Prude as “Jigaboo.” Prude confronted LaBarge, saying the use of racial slurs was unacceptable and was told that LaBarge was not directing the comment to Prude, however he continued to use the term in conversations with him. The complaint alleges that the LaBarge and Murphy continued to use these discriminatory terms, and were so “blatant and brazen in their racial epithets that they not only directed the slurs at Plaintiff but, upon information and belief, did so in front” of Prude’s direct supervisor who reported the incident to Moss who, according to the complaint, who did nothing to alleviate the situation.
In an effort to avoid the “continued discrimination and harassment” in the Logistics One workplace, Prude requested a transfer to the day shift. His request was denied, and according to Prude, the reason given for the denial was that “since he was black he was better suited for nights.” Shortly after, he was told his position was being eliminated and he was being transferred into the Brokerage Division. Prude was given a rotating schedule with reduced hours. Prude then applied for an open position in the Customer Service Division, and despite being qualified for the position, the complaint alleges that Prude was told by his supervisor, James Clark that his application was not accepted because he spoke too “hoodish.”
The complaint alleges that Clark “demonstrated his intolerance” of Prude by calling him a “coon,” and a “moron.” Prude, again following the company’s policies, reported the incidents to a Manager in the Brokerage Division and Logistics One’s Human Resources Manager. The Manager held a meeting with both Prude and Clark and according to the complaint determined that Prude was “to blame for taking Clark’s Disparaging comments the wrong way.”
What is by far the one of the most chilling accounts of blatant racism, as if the accounts above were not enough, occurred in the fall of 2017 when LaBarge approached Prude’s desk, pulled out a banana, held it above Prude’s head and ‘made monkey noises while shouting for others to “look at my little monkey” and “look at my jigaboo”‘ according to the complaint. Prude says he knocked the banana out of LaBarge’s hand and went outside to calm down. The complaint states that there were a number of other employees who witnessed this incident and reported the event to Logistics One HR, along with Prude’s own report to HR.
The complaint says that LaBarge was “counseled” on the incident by the HR manager and Moss, however no formal investigation was conducted and instead Prude was told that LaBarge was just joking and that is the way he is.
Then in May of 2018, the complaint alleges that Clark, Prude’s direct supervisor became so enraged at Prude that he ordered Prude to the warehouse where he began screaming and pushing him. Clark also reportedly told Prude that he had a gun nearby during the altercation. The altercation was witnessed by several employees including the brokerage manager. who reported the incident to William McNearly. the CEO of Logistics One along with the HR Manager.
Prude was “constructively discharged” from Logistics One in September 2018. Prude filed a complaint with the State of NY in December of 2018 citing unlawful business practices on the basis of race, national origin, hostile work environment and retaliation. On June 18th the Division of Human Rights issued a finding of probable cause to believe that Logistics One engaged in unlawful discriminatory practices. On May 5th 2020 the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) sent notification to Prude that he had the right to sue Logistics One.
Freight Broker Live reached out to Logistics One and Prude’s attorney’s for comments. A comment has not been received from either party by publication.