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EEOC Files Discrimination Suit Against Area Firms

By Eileen Buckley

Buffalo, NY – A major discrimination lawsuit has been filed against one of Buffalo's largest employment agencies and two of its clients. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission says this suit alleges a number of race, gender and disability discrimination violations.

The class action civil lawsuit names SPS Temporaries on Delaware Avenue as well as Jamestown Container Companies and Whiting Door Manufacturing of Akron, New York. Former SPS employee Michelle Alberts says she witnessed a great deal of race, age, gender and medical disabilities discrimination. Alberts says when she questioned the practice she was fired.

"I was told it was none of my business and that this is how they operate. I questioned it again, then lost an account, which lost me money," Alberts explained. "Ultimately I was told I need to work somewhere else if I don't like they way they operate, then I was fired."

EEOC trial attorney Robert Rose says the violations denied employment to women and minorities. Rose says the suit accuses the employment agency of talking "in code" with the companies to discuss what type of employee they desired. He says SPS also is accused of destroying documents that would trace the discrimination.

"Some of their clients asked to have white employees or males only. They used certain code words when they talked about it," Rose said. "That's where the document destruction issue comes in. We understood a lot of this would be documented on forms."

But SPS owner Paul Alberti says they've been cooperating fully with the investigation. In a written statement, Alberti says the company acknowledged that there were some "minor issues with with paperwork." He says SPS will be attempting to negotiate a settlement with the EEOC.

In past year's, SPS was named the area's largest temporary employment agency by "Business First."

Jamestown Container vice president John Bolender says the company will "vigorously defend against this claim."

The EEOC says the suit seeks monetary damages for the victims and would require the companies to adopt procedures to prevent discrimination in the future.