Former employees sue Downtown Memphis Commission for discrimination, sexual harassment

Former employees sue Downtown Memphis Commission for discrimination, sexual harassment

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Seven former members of the Downtown Memphis Commission's Blue Suede Brigade have leveled shocking allegations against their former employer in a federal lawsuit filed this week.

They say they were subjected to discrimination and sexual harassment.

One woman says she was even forced to watch pornographic videos on the job.

The Downtown Memphis Commission describes its Blue Suede Brigade as "ambassadors" who make everyone's downtown experience better.

They answer questions, provide directions to visitors and work with Memphis Police and downtown private security.

But in an 80-page federal lawsuit, a group of former Blue Suede Brigade members say supervisors subjected them to repeated discrimination and sexual harassment.

Attorney Dale Hutcherson represents the group.

"These people were hardworking, Memphis-loving folks that in no way wanted for this to even happen," said Hutcherson.

His clients include a woman who in the suit says a male supervisor forced her to watch pornographic videos on the job, including videos that featured himself.

"You hate to see anyone go through that," said Hutcherson.

Another former worker says in the suit that the same supervisor told her, "If you would have slept with me, you would have had a better evaluation."

Several of the former employees say supervisors also forced them to work without reasonable accommodations despite injuries and physical disabilities and discriminated against them because of race and religious beliefs.

Hutcherson says despite his clients reporting the incidents to the proper channels, no corrective actions were ever taken.

"Nothing was done of substance, and as a matter of fact, all of our clients were either fired or forced into a resignation or felt like they were forced to quit the job," said Hutcherson.

His clients are asking the court for up to $25 million in damages, including for lost wages, physical pain, emotional distress and humiliation and medical expenses.

WMC Action News 5 reached out to the Downtown Memphis Commission for comment.

The commission’s attorney, Pamela Irons, said “As a matter of practice, we do not publically (sic) discuss pending legal matters.”

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