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  • Writer's pictureSam Orlando

Stone-Cold Discrimination: The Rocky Road of VDOT's Employment Practices Detailed in Federal Lawsuit

Written by: Sam Orlando

Richmond, VA - In an era where pressing issues such as climate change, voter suppression, and income inequality capture headlines, the Eastern District of Virginia brings us a monumental legal showdown. The burning question? Whether Stephen Crockett, a 62-year-old man with nearly two decades of employment with the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT), should have been fired for taking some leftover gravel home. Prepare to be riveted, America.

You heard it right. In a tale that feels like it was crafted by Kafka and Dickens' underachieving cousins, Crockett faces life-altering discrimination charges over a small pile of stones valued at approximately $100. According to a complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Richmond, Crockett had the audacity—the sheer, unmitigated gall—to use a smidgen of excess gravel from a work project for his own residence, as had been common practice at VDOT. According to the lawsuit, Crockett didn't realize that the privilege of keeping leftover gravel for personal use only extended to white employees. Crocket is African American.

Let's break down the high-stakes drama for you. Crockett was working his dump truck on March 17, 2022. He completed a repair job involving a mailbox and had some leftover gravel. Rather than wantonly disposing of it, Crockett, who seemingly has a knack for recycling, chose to take it home. But here's the twist: he had verbal permission from his supervisor to do so.

This Just In: Verbal Consent No Longer Counts at VDOT Crockett's supervisor, Chris Basye, allegedly greenlighted his plan to take the extra gravel home, acknowledging it was part of an unofficial but prevalent VDOT policy. Flash forward to a "due process notification" followed by formal termination. Talk about gratitude for nearly 20 years of service.

Selective Enforcement, or Business as Usual? What makes this case more than just a quirky sideshow is the allegation that the enforcement of this "policy" seems to have a selective flavor, one that might just correlate with the hue of your skin or perhaps your age. According to the complaint, several white males under 40 at VDOT have enjoyed their own small mountains of gravel without so much as a raised eyebrow from higher-ups.

The Inconsistency Olympics But wait, there's more! If you're interested in rule enforcement that varies as much as Virginia weather, then the story told in this complaint is written for you. The complaint alleges that VDOT has not terminated employees for far graver infractions, including bringing firearms onto VDOT property and crashing company vehicles. These employees, it should be noted, do not share Crockett's demographic profile.

Overtime Snub: The Icing on the Cake As if termination weren't enough, the complaint also delves into a mysterious absence of overtime opportunities for Crockett since Labor Day 2021. It seems writing a letter supporting a fellow black co-worker in 2019 might have made him persona non grata in the eyes of VDOT's timekeepers.

In a news landscape starved for substantive stories, this lawsuit turns the spotlight onto the surprisingly urgent issues of stray gravel and systemic irregularities. The plaintiff is calling for a jury trial, setting the stage for the most riveting rock-related spectacle since the moon landing. Buckle up, America.

The lawsuit not only seeks the reinstatement of Mr. Crockett but also monetary damages, including back pay, emotional pain, and mental anguish. While the case is undoubtedly serious, one can't help but ponder the mountain of contradictions built on a molehill of stones.

Breaking Through reached out to VDOT for comment but did not receive an immediate response.

So whether you're a civil rights advocate, a legal aficionado, or just someone who appreciates the Kafkaesque dimensions of modern life, you won't want to miss how this gravel saga unfolds. If nothing else, it will be etched in stone as one of the most jaw-dropping cases of "you can't make this stuff up" in recent memory.

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