EXCLUSIVE: PG&E employee files discrimination lawsuit; alleges hostile work environment, retaliation

San Francisco (KGO) -- A PG&E employee is suing the utility company for what he said amounts to discrimination. The employee said he faced discrimination and was retaliated against including being denied promotions.

"I've been there too long and I'm still standing. I will continue to stand and I'll continue speaking up," said San Francisco resident Emanuel Lankford.

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Lankford has been employed with PG&E for more than 15 years and currently works as a substation supervisor.

In a lawsuit filed in district court in December 2021, Lankford said he has faced discrimination and was subjected to a hostile work environment at PG&E, partly because he is Black.

"It's been one thing after another: being overlooked for promotions, being retaliated against for speaking up and even speaking up about being retaliated against only to have those claims go unsubstantiated," said Lankford in an exclusive interview with ABC7 News.

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In the lawsuit, asking for $15 million in compensation and punitive damages, Lankford alleges he was denied bonuses and overlooked for promotions - all things he said were awarded to white counterparts instead.

"I interviewed for the manager position and did not receive the position, it was not awarded to me. It instead went to a white female who has no substation experience," he said.

PG&E said in a statement to ABC7 News on Dec. 28:

"PG&E holds a strong commitment to providing a discrimination-free workplace and takes all claims of discrimination seriously. The company has not been served, but is aware of the lawsuit, and we do not comment on pending litigation."

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Lankford's lawsuit is the second discrimination suit filed against the utility in as many months.

A former Black PG&E employee in Sacramento filed a lawsuit alleging she was fired after making a discrimination claim against the utility.

San Francisco-based Attorney Tony Bothwell represents both plaintiffs.

"Both cases involve retaliation. Both cases involve people who've made complaints about discrimination. Both cases involve plaintiffs who happen to be African American...both cases involve misconduct on the part of PG&E the management," said Bothwell.

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Lankford has filed complaints with the EEOC and the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing and believes this lawsuit was his final option.

"I, ultimately, just want some change, some meaningful, sustainable change," Lankford said.

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