Suit: Former train conductor a victim of racially-motivated attack

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A former train conductor filed a civil rights lawsuit in federal court Tuesday, saying he was the victim of racial hostility.

The lawsuit says higher-ups at Illinois Central Railroad did not address a racially-motivated attack on the conductor in 2012.

Solomon Perry, 34, says he’s been afraid to go back to work as a locomotive engineer and conductor.

“I was attacked and berated and humiliated by four individuals who worked for the company,” he said.

After Illinois Central,  a subsidiary of Canadian National Railroad, failed to protect him, Perry claims, after receiving a series of ominous threats in the wake of an altercation in a railroad crew room.  

“There was a dead rat on my doorstep. The chest cavity split and cut down the middle,” Perry said. There was also a death threat attached.

Perry says for some time before a frightening incident in a railroad crew room, he’d complained about what he describes as a racially-hostile work environment at Illinois Central Railroad to no avail. Hateful language and racial slurs were a part of the workplace, he claims. And then Perry says he was assaulted by four men, screaming racial slurs as one of the men, identified in the civil lawsuit as Louis Busch, pulled a knife

Perry called 911. But because the incident happened on railroad property, Canadian National Police took jurisdiction. And Perry says investigators never wanted to hear his claim that the attack was racially motivated.  And he says company investigators concluded the altercation was merely horseplay.  

Busch ultimately pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault charges in the incident. But spokespeople for Illinois Central Railroad deny the company has ever tolerated racial harassment. And in regards to the 2012 altercation, they tell WGN:

“Illinois Central responded immediately and appropriately that night. The company then conducted a full investigation, after which, the company took appropriate disciplinary action against employees involved in the incident, including the termination of one of those employees.”

But Perry says there were four railroad employees involved in the alleged assault, and others who helped create what he insists was a racially hostile workplace. He says he wants justice.

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