By Peter Cohen, 12/05/01

Last week a $40 million racial discrimination lawsuit was filed in the Santa Clara County Superior Court against Apple and an Apple employee named Dan Riccio. The suit claims that Apple and Riccio denied an African-American employee promotions, stock options and the company of his co-workers. Late this afternoon MacCentral spoke with the plaintiff’s attorney, Waukeen Q. McCoy, Esq. to get some additional details about the case.

McCoy’s client, who hasn’t been identified by name, was a product engineer at Apple from November 1998 to July 2001. McCoy told MacCentral that the employee had no performance or disciplinary problems on his record, and the performance review prior to his termination rated him above average. The employee had been sent to Tokyo, Japan and Houston as part of his work for the company.

At issue is the employee’s decision to bring a friend to the Apple campus, which McCoy claimed was an attempt to help motivate the friend to attend college and improve himself. Shortly thereafter, the employee was suspended; several weeks later he was fired. McCoy described Apple’s actions to MacCentral as a pretext for his allegedly racially motivated dismissal.

The suit also alleges that the employee was physically separated from his own co-workers — relegated to a cubicle that McCoy described as “a significant distance” from the other members of his team. McCoy told MacCentral that the employee was the only person of color in the department.

McCoy said that other members of the same department — including Riccio, who was the employee’s direct supervisor — brought friends and family to the office with impunity.

McCoy also said that now the suit has been filed, the next step in the case is to collect depositions both from Riccio and human resources management at Apple, to help support the claim of discrimination.

An Apple spokesperson declined to comment for this story.