A garbage hauling company owned by African-Americans has sued the city of Chicago, Allied Waste and the Teamsters, among others, for $24 million, alleging the defendants conspired to thwart the ability of the minority-owned company to bid on the city’s garbage hauling contract.
On Oct. 1, Linda and Jesse McGee, owners of Linda Construction Inc. (LCI), based on Chicago’s South Side, filed a complaint in federal court in Chicago, alleging discrimination, conspiracy, violation of equal protection, breach of contract and interference with a contract against the various defendants.
Named defendants in the case include the city; Arizona-based Republic Services Inc.; Illinois-based Allied Waste Transportation Inc.; and Teamsters Local 731, as well as various individuals associated with the named companies and organizations.
The complaint centers on events LCI assert occurred during a three-year “probationary period,” during which city officials purportedly were evaluating LCI’s ability to handle the task of hauling garbage to landfills from the city’s waste transfer stations, where refuse is taken after being collected by the city’s garbage trucks.
According to the complaint, LCI landed the probationary contract in 2010, when it was hired by Allied, a subsidiary of Republic, to serve as the minority-owned contractor in a “joint venture” required by the city as a condition of the award of the waste hauling contract to Allied.
In the complaint, LCI asserted it is the only minority-owned contractor able to fill the city’s legal requirements to award contracts to companies owned by racial minorities and women.
However, LCI alleged the city had consistently declined to consider its services under the administration of former Mayor Richard M. Daley, regularly awarding contracts to waste hauling companies, such as Allied, which the complaint asserted is owned by white men, or to purported minority-owned businesses which acted as front companies for white-owned businesses to skirt the minority-ownership requirements and acted as “pass throughs” to steer the city business and money to the white-owned companies.
To address concerns about such practices, the city required Allied to partner with LCI for three years.
According to the complaint, the contract required Allied to “mentor” LCI and help them and their employees gain the experience and expertise needed to fulfill the requirements of a future city waste hauling contract.
Should the probationary period end well, LCI would then be allowed to bid on a future city waste hauling contract.
However, instead of helping, LCI alleged Allied and its allies in city government and the Teamsters conspired to sabotage LCI and prevent it from meeting the requirements of the probationary test.
“The defendants’ intention was to make it look like plaintiffs (LCI) could not perform the required work or that plaintiffs’ company failed or became insolvent,” the complaint stated. “Defendants wanted to make it look like the minority owned contractor in this case could not be awarded a city contract because of its failure to do the work, and not due to the fact that it was minority owned.”
According to the complaint, conspiracy efforts included directing an insurer to acquire coverage for LCI’s trucks which would have prohibited it from operating in Missouri, where landfills are located; misleading LCI drivers to believe one to 1.5 loads delivered per day was sufficient, when the contract called for a minimum of 2.5; hiring a company to seize some LCI trucks; intentionally delaying loading LCI trucks with waste to be hauled; ignoring invoices; and “encouraging employee disruption and prohibiting LCI from conducting any disciplinary measures against any employee.”
The complaint alleged city employees “encouraged all of the attacks by Republic and Allied against LCI and ignored all of the complaints from (LCI.)”
According to the complaint, LCI filed more than two dozen complaints with City Hall over a 16-month period against Republic and Allied.
“All of the defendants intentionally placed LCI in its current position so that it could not bid for the upcoming November City contracts,” the complaint stated.
According to the complaint, LCI estimated it has lost at least $14 million.
LCI has asked the court to award it $24 million in compensatory damages, plus unspecified punitive damages, and to require the city to allow LCI to bid for the city’s waste hauling contract.
LCI is represented in the action by attorney Maurice Jame Salem of the Law Offices of Salem & Associates, of Palos Heights.