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Railroad Worker Files Suit Claiming Co-Workers Taunted Him, Cut His Dreadlocks

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Mai Martinez Mai Martinez
Mai Martinez co-anchors CBS 2 Chicago’s weekend evening newscasts and...
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(CBS) — For years, an Indiana man says he endured discrimination and harassment in his work place by white co-workers.

When it escalated to a physical attack in which his dreadlocks were cut off, he said finally spoke up.

But as CBS 2’s Mai Martinez reports, instead of being helped, he was let go.

“I want justice,” said Solomon Perry.

Justice for the years of torment Perry says he endured while working at Illinois Central Railroad Company.

“I was called tree swinger and they just get progressively worse,” said Perry.

In a federal lawsuit filed Tuesday against the company and three former co-workers, Perry outlines the racial discrimination, harassment, and retaliation he says he suffered.

Perry says the verbal insults and attacks escalated to a physical assault on November 10, 2012.

“One individual yanks my hair back and then I feel my scalp just being cut with a knife,” said Perry.

It happened in a room with other workers present. Perry says no one tried to stop the attack and instead they mocked him.

“’Look at me, I’m a Rastafarian n-word, like Perry’ and they’re high-fiving each other and they’re throwing locks of my hair to the floor and stomping on them,” said Perry.

Perry says a supervisor didn’t discipline his co-workers so he complained to higher ups which only led to more intimidation–including a dead rat left at his doorstep and a threat in his mailbox.

“Said if you talk on Monday, you are dead. N-word,” said Perry.

After that, Perry says he knew he could never return to work.

“I chose life over death,” said Perry.

When Perry didn’t return to work, citing his fear, he was let go by the company.

As for the assault, a spokesperson for Illinois Central says the company took appropriate disciplinary action against the employees involved — including the termination of one of those employees.

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