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Former Steelers LB Merriweather claims racial bias at Meadows casino

| Thursday, Dec. 26, 2013, 10:45 a.m.

A former Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker claims in a federal lawsuit that the white upper management at The Meadows Racetrack and Casino harassed him because he's black, and the company fired him for complaining about the racial discrimination.

Michael L. Merriweather, 53, of Stockton, Calif., says in the lawsuit filed on Tuesday that The Meadows hired him as director of sports marketing on April 14, 2011, mainly so he could attract athletes to play at special events such as “Black & Gold” games.

John Stember, one of Merriweather's attorneys, said Sean Sullivan, vice president and general manager, hired Merriweather because of his people skills and connections to other athletes and celebrities, but other executives apparently resented his hiring.

“It was upper management and his peers that were giving him a hard time,” he said.

A spokesman for The Meadows said he could not comment on pending litigation.

In addition to making racial remarks, executives excluded him from meetings and refused to credit him for the players he recruited for events, which affected Merriweather's commissions, the lawsuit states.

As relationships worsened, the company decided it was easier to fire Merriweather than to discipline or fire the several employees who were harassing him, Stember said.

The company fired Merriweather on Jan. 4, 2012.

The Meadows still owes him about $25,000 in commissions, said Emily Town, another lawyer for Merriweather.

The outside linebacker played for the Steelers from 1982 to 1988. During that time, he went to the Pro Bowl three times and was the team's most valuable player in 1987.

Brian Bowling is a staff writer for Total Trib Media. Contact him at 412-325-4301 at bbowling@tribweb.com.

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