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  • Writer's pictureKirstin Kennedy

PA man filed federal lawsuit accusing a Pittsburgh business of racial discrimination

For immediate release

PITTSBURGH – A Pennsylvania man has filed suit against a Pittsburgh-based business for allegedly subjecting him to disparate treatment in violation of state and federal law, as well as for failing to compensate him for overtime work.

According to a complaint filed in the Western District Court of Pennsylvania, Plaintiff Andre Wallace, an African-American man, began working for Sine Trading International, LLC, on April 30, 2018 as a member of the Sales and Customs Clearance Department. His job responsibilities primarily consisted of answering phones, conducting data entry, and tracking shipments. Initially, he was compensated at a rate of $13.00 per hour, but, after a ninety-day period, his pay was increased to $15.00 per hour, according to the complaint. Because the company was small, Mr. Wallace alleged in the filing, he was often left to run the day-to-day business of his department by himself.

According to the complaint, several months after his hiring, though, two new employees were hired to his department – both of whom were white males. Soon after they were brought on by the company, Mr. Wallace allegedly learned that the two newly hired employees received a higher rate of pay than he, as both were compensated at a rate of $22.00 per hour. According to the complaint, all three of the men worked in the same position.

Additionally, Mr. Wallace alleged that he began to experience instances of harassment perpetrated by the company’s owner, Wayne Fu. Mr. Fu regularly took an aggressive tone with Mr. Wallace, according to the complaint. Often and without provocation, Mr. Wallace alleged that Mr. Fu often screamed and cursed at him for no legitimate reason, often in front of other employees. According to the complaint, the two newly hired men were never subjected to such treatment. Mr. Wallace alleged that Mr. Fu refused to pay a time-and-a-half rate to him for the overtime hours which he worked.

Further, according to the complaint, Mr. Fu permitted the new employees a sixty-minute lunch break and the ability to leave the office at 5:30 p.m., while Mr. Wallace was only permitted a thirty-minute break and was often required to work as late as 8:00 p.m. Mr. Wallace additionally alleged that he was often scheduled to work on holidays and weekends while other, Caucasian staff members were granted time off.

According to the complaint, Mr. Wallace sent an email to Mr. Fu which inquired as to the reason that he was paid less than his counter-parts, and he further asked if the workplace issues that he faced were the result of racism. Mr. Fu responded by stating that Mr. Wallace’s performance was poor, and he proceeded to reduce his pay to $12.00 per hour, according to the complaint. Mr. Wallace then alleged that he was terminated without explanation on January 3, 2019.

The four-count complaint alleges violations of Section 1981 of the Civil Rights Act of 1866, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act of 1955, as well as the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938.

The complaint was filed in September 2020.

Manes & Narahari is a Pittsburgh-based employment law firm representing workers who have been wrongfully terminated, harassed, or cheated by their employers. The firm also provides business law-related services and represents small businesses and entrepreneurs in startup, transactional, and litigation matters.

For more information on the claims made by Mr. Wallace against Sine Trading International, LLC, contact the law office of Manes & Narahari at 412-626-5626.

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