Saying he was harassed, stripped of earnings and ultimately sacked from a job at the The Meadows Racetrack and Casino because he is big and black, former Steelers linebacker Michael L. Merriweather filed a lawsuit this week alleging disparate treatment and violations of human relations and wage laws.
Mr. Merriweather, 53, now of Stockton, Calif., was hired by The Meadows in April 2011 as director of sports marketing, according to the complaint filed in U.S. District Court. His job was to promote blackjack tournaments, bowling and Steelers-themed “Black and Gold” events, according to the complaint by attorney Emily E. Town. He was to be paid a salary plus commissions.
Though he maintained a professional demeanor, “he was a large, obviously fit, black male who was known to have played in professional football, and white co-workers often acted as if they feared him,” according to the complaint. White managers made comments like, “I don’t want him to beat me up,” and “I don’t want to get him mad,” according to the complaint. It noted that Mr. Merriweather is an ordained minister and is certified as an anger management facilitator.
A white superior repeatedly failed to properly code some clients’ play at The Meadows, costing Mr. Merriweather commissions, according to the complaint. He brought his concerns to the general manager. Eventually, a group of white managers stopped responding to the former linebacker’s emails and didn’t invite him to meetings or greet him in the hallways, the lawsuit alleged.
A superior eliminated Mr. Merriweather’s office and told him to work in a common area, the lawsuit indicated, and in January 2012 he was fired.
The complaint said that The Meadows owners Cannery Casino Resorts and The Washington Trotting Association violated federal and state anti-discrimination laws, and also broke wage laws by withholding promised commissions. It seeks payment of lost wages, punitive damages and attorney fees.
A spokesman for The Meadows indicated that he could not comment on litigation.
Rich Lord: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1542.