A wireless construction manager has filed a discrimination lawsuit against Mobilitie, LLC, a nationwide wireless infrastructure service provider, alleging that the company “engaged in a pattern or practice of failing to hire African-American and non-Caucasian applicants” for numerous construction-related positions in its offices throughout the country.
Rufus Lovell Brooks of Orlando, Fla. filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, claiming that he had applied for 80 positions with Mobilitie but was not hired, and “less qualified person [sic] of other races were placed in the positions.”
Lawsuit mirrors Bechtel race charges
He also felt he was discriminated against at two arbitration hearings against America’s 9th largest private company, Bechtel, beginning in 2007.
The same charges were levied after he filed a lawsuit against then Bechtel CEO Riley Bechtel. He also added the judge to the complaint who previously found Brooks in contempt of a temporary injunction that prevented him from contacting Bechtel executives and their employees.
Brooks claimed that, on account of his race and age, between Sept. 1, 2006 and Aug 24, 2007, Bechtel failed to hire him for any of the 136 positions for which he applied.
Believes his LinkedIn photograph axed Mobilitie opportunities
In the Mobilitie complaint filed April 13, he claims that in Sept. 2015 he was scheduled for an interview for a construction manager position in Atlanta and was informed that the meeting had been canceled and the job was given to “a less qualified white male”.
Also, Brooks said he later applied for a Director of Site Verification position and was informed that the position had been cancelled, but it was later given to another less qualified white male.
On Jan. 12, 2016, Brooks said that he had accepted a job offer for a construction manager position through a third party contractor, WTKO, that was doing work for Mobilitie.
Brooks said LinkedIn analytics informed him that Mobilitie CEO Gary Jabara had viewed his profile, and on Jan. 21, 2016 he was informed by WTKO that Mobilitie had rescinded the job offer, but Brooks believes it was later awarded to an unqualified white man.
Mobilitie appears to have workplace diversity
Brooks alleges that Mobilitie requires all applicants to provide a LinkedIn URL and they use it as a screening tool to maintain “a pattern or practice of refusing to hire non-Caucasians because of their race and/or color.”
Brooks’ use of the term “non-Caucasian” might be problematic because the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) doesn’t recognize Caucasian as a race or ethnic identification.
A review of hundreds of LinkedIn Mobilitie employees by Wireless Estimator shows a number of them are African Americans with management positions as well as Hispanics, Asians and other races recognized by the EEOC.
Brooks said he is representing himself in the action “to correct unlawful employment practices on the basis of race and/or color,” and is requesting a jury trial.
The lawsuit was filed on April 13 and Mobilitie responded to an amended complaint on June 1, stating that it was without sufficient knowledge and information to form a belief about the truth, and in most accusations denied the allegations. They also said that the complaint reaches a number of legal conclusions to which no response is required.
Brooks, in an email, informed Wireless Estimator that during the period when he was putting in applications to Mobilitie he had contacted between 30 to 40 other companies for employment, but Mobilitie and Tower Cloud were the only businesses that he was aware of that viewed his profile on LinkedIn.
Brooks said he filed a discrimination complaint against Mobilitie with the EEOC in 2015 and then attempted to reach a voluntary settlement with Mobilitie before filing his lawsuit, seeking to have it certified as a class action.
At the time he filed the EEOC action he was employed by Ericsson on an AT&T/ALLTEL project in Georgia, according to his resume.
He said he is currently unemployed.
Rigid reference constraints keep employers in the dark
Brooks’ resume states that he began his career in telecom in 1989 after graduating with a BA from the University of Texas at Dallas in 1998, and was employed by a subsidiary of Bechtel, EPC Global, from 2001 through 2005 until he was hired by Bechtel, according to court documents.
Had Mobilitie contacted Bechtel for employment verification, through their standard practice they would have received limited information about Brooks other than his dates of employment, position and salary, particularly because Brooks accused the company of defamation, stating that he was defamed through conversations Bechtel personnel had with Goodman Networks, a prospective employer.
Although lawsuit averse HR generalists might when asked, state if their company would rehire their former employee, a quick Google search by Mobilitie would have provided the California-based company with an indication as to what Bechtel’s answer might be when they reviewed a troubled history between Bechtel and Brooks that began 10 years ago.
According to court documents, Bechtel said they hired Brooks on Aug. 12, 2005, to work on a project in central Florida, but the buildout ended sometime before June 2007 and Brooks along with others was terminated.
Alleges his reporting safety violations was key to his termination
Utilizing the arbitration clause in his employment agreement with Bechtel, Brooks filed a claim with the American Arbitration Association (AAA) based upon his termination, and Bechtel’s alleged refusal to rehire him. He also claimed Bechtel retaliated against him because of his “whistleblower” status.
Brooks claimed that on Feb. 7, 2006, he reported a safety issue to Jeff Hamm, Bechtel’s regional safety manager and was warned by his supervisor, Steven Jensen, “not to make safety reports to Jeff Hamm in the future.”
On Feb. 10, 2006, Brooks reported another safety violation, but he claims he was ordered by Jensen not to submit a written report — a charge that Brooks would later try to prove by allegedly trying to bribe a witness by offering him $20,000.
Ten days later, according to Brooks, he reported Jensen’s request to Hamm and was then “reprimanded, threatened, denied promotional opportunities and transferred out of the Florida’s [sic] market by Steven Jensen and Edward Steiner.”
Over six months later on Sept. 1, 2006, Brooks said he reported Jensen’s and Steiner’s actions to Bechtel’s HR manager and requested an investigation.
On June 7, 2007, Nicholas Fisher, the subject of Brooks’ safety violations complaint, was on a tower in Mandarin, Fla. and he fell to his death, according to Wireless Estimator reporting.
The medical examiner’s report stated that Fisher had a high level of ethanol in his blood (0.13 percent) as well as cannabinoids and nordiazepam.
Brooks said he reported Fischer’s death to Steiner and Jensen on June 8, 2007, and felt that “if the safety violations by Fischer had been reported as required, Nicholas Fischer would still be alive.”
Brooks said he was terminated on Aug. 11, 2007.
Available court records do not indicate whether Fischer was on a Bechtel-managed project when he died.
Walks away from first hearing, claiming he was labeled psychotic
During Brooks’ AAA mediation and arbitration conferences, he said that Bechtel’s attorney, Daniel Johnson, “embarked on a campaign of harassment, intimidation and defamatory [sic}, and brought in two armed white security guards, and falsely labeled Brooks as psychotic and on the verge of committing violent acts to Bechtel’s employees.
On April 25, 2008, after Bechtel said they were going to ask for a motion to dismiss Brooks’ claims, Brooks said he withdrew from the arbitration process.
Picketing ends with suspended 120-day jail sentence
After Bechtel had received a temporary junction on June 30, 2008 preventing Brooks from directly or indirectly contacting Riley Bechtel, then Bechtel’s CEO, its executives, officers and employees, including those who moved on to other companies, Brooks was hauled before Orange County, Fla. Judge George A. Sprinkel for violating that injunction.
During his contempt hearing, Brooks acknowledged that was carrying a sign outside of Johnson’s building that stated “Killers Wanted. Call Riley Bechtel, Dan Johnson.” He was also wearing a hard hat that appeared to have a Bechtel logo on it.
The sign also included Johnson’s telephone number as well as Riley Bechtel’s direct dial number.
He also displayed a sign which said, “Who Killed Nick Fischer? Was it Riley Bechtel, Dan Johnson, Carlton Fields?” In addition, he displayed another sign asking people to call his former supervisor.
“I have tried every means that I know of to resolve this matter. I had – felt I had no recourse,” Brooks said during the hearing.
He stated that he was not in violation of the injunction because he didn’t directly call Riley Bechtel, although according to Bechtel’s office, approximately 12 people did.
Judge Sprinkel disagreed that Brooks, as he stated, was just exercising his First Amendment rights, and in an email that he was just “helping Bechtel find some good people,” and on Oct. 6, 2008, provided Bechtel with a permanent injunction and sentenced Brooks to 120 days in jail but suspended it, possibly because Johnson said Bechtel was not seeking a jail sentence.
In Sprinkel’s permanent injunction order he wrote: “Defendant intentionally violated that injunction. The Court rejects Defendant’s contention that he acted in ‘good faith.’ In reviewing all of the evidence, the Court finds that Defendant’s purported explanations are nothing but after the fact excuses and rationalizations. Rather, [Brooks] is playing games with both [Bechtel] and the court.”
JAM’s arbitration alleges Brooks bribed witness to change his testimony|
Brooks tried to resolve his employment dispute by filing a new case with JAMS, a national arbitration firm.
Their charges of $575 per hour were billed to Johnson’s firm, Carlton Fields P.A. of Orlando, which would be reimbursed by Bechtel.
The arbitrator, attorney R. Wayne Thorpe, allowed Brooks’ earlier arbitration claims to be consolidated, including an allegation that Bechtel defamed him in communications with Goodman Networks, and set a final hearing date starting April 6, 2009.
On April 24, 2009, Bechtel filed its Motion to Dismiss with Prejudice, alleging that Brooks attempted to bribe witness Scott Cuen, by offering to pay him $20,000 to change his testimony from his deposition and tampered with and tried to intimidate other witnesses into not testifying.
In testimony, Cuen said that Brooks also offered him $10,000 to pass a polygraph test
Cuen was an alleged eyewitness to a conversation between Brooks and Jensen when he was told not to write a safety report.
Thorpe said Brooks offered no meaningful explanation as to what he intended to prove by the lie detector test offer, “and his attempt to explain it as something unrelated to Cuen’s deposition is deceptive and disingenuous.”
Brooks’ disrespect was worst arbitrator witnessed in 30 years
Thorpe and Johnson were frequently concerned about Brooks’ civility during the proceedings. During a telephone conference, Thorpe said, “You have to let me finish talking Mr. Brooks. You have to stop this.” Brooks replied with, “That’s exactly what I mean. I don’t want to put up with this shit,” and then disconnected from the call.
On another hearing call, Brooks told Johnson: “I don’t know how you sleep at night. If you have family, God help them if you act that way towards them. You have total disregard for human life. Total disregard.****You just an evil man, Dan. You an evil man. You an evil person.”
Brooks called Johnson an a**h*** and a piece of s*** and said that Johnson reinforced his “determination to make you and Bechtel pay for what you have done to me.”
Prejudice, collusion, and bigotry accusations
He also made accusations of collusion between Johnson and Thorpe and racial bias, prejudice and bigotry.
In an email from Brooks to a JAMS manager responding to her email informing him that JAMs had rejected his request to disqualify Thorpe, he said, “the only surprise is that you took so long, I expected you WHITE people to stick together and you did.”
Thorpe wrote, “Mr. Brooks’ conduct is unlike any I have ever witnessed in 30 years’ practice as a litigation lawyer and as an arbitrator and mediator. In those roles I estimate I have been involved in 2,000 or more cases, with more than 10,000 parties and counsel as participants. Thankfully, I have never before witnessed conduct so fundamentally disrespectful of our legal system.”
Arbitration demand is dismissed; Bechtel’s $142,615 attorney’s fees shaved
Thorpe dismissed Brooks’ arbitration case as to all parties and claims on Oct. 28, 2009, but it took two years for his attorney’s fees judgment to be confirmed by a California court.
Bechtel sought $142,615 in attorney’s fees and expenses from Brooks which Thorpe approved as appropriate, but reduced the actual award to $35,000 based upon Brooks’ purported financial status. He later reduced it to $20,000, stating that the “purpose of this monetary sanction is to punish and deter, and not to subject Mr. Brooks to financial ruin.”
In 2009, Bechtel said that Brooks owned a home in Orlando appraised at $530,000 with an undetermined amount of debt. He still owns the property and it is currently appraised at $790,000.
Because Riley Bechtel is a resident of San Francisco County, Calif., on Aug. 1., 2011 Brooks filed a last-ditch petition to vacate the award and conduct a new trial. On April 18, 2011, a hearing was held in Superior Court and it was denied.
On Sept. 29, 2011, Brooks was served with the judgment.
However, it is not known if he paid the $20,000 to Bechtel. Johnson informed Wireless Estimator that Bechtel would not comment on the matter. Also, Mobilitie did not reply to a request for information regarding Brooks’ most recent lawsuit.
In response to Brooks’ complaint, Mobilitie said that he is seeking punitive damages, but “such damages are unavailable under applicable law and/or are barred based on Defendant’s good faith efforts to comply with the law.”
Mobilitie also said that “even if any decision concerning Plaintiff was based, in part, on discriminatory and/or retaliatory grounds (which none was), Defendant would have reached the same decision absent any alleged improper motive.”
Although Brooks is representing himself, he is asking the court to grant him attorney’s fees and expenses if he is successful in his lawsuit.