Jerome Bettis sued energy company EQT for $66 million in a federal court on Thursday alleging racial discrimination.
The Hall of Fame running back who won a Super Bowl with the Pittsburgh Steelers is part owner of a trucking company called IntegrServ. He claims that EQT backed out of a business agreement with IntegrServ that was meant in part to support a minority-owned business.
Bettis: ‘I have to stand up and say something’
Bettis and his brother, John, own 51 percent of the trucking company. He told USA Today on Thursday that the lawsuit is about racial injustice.
“We brought the lawsuit to fight for what is right,” Bettis said. “I have to stand up and say something when I see what I believe to be racial injustice. I am calling it out because it’s wrong, and the time is now to do something about it.”
EQT denies Bettis’ claims
EQT is a Pittsburgh-based natural gas company. It reported revenue exceeding $4.4 billion in 2018 and 2019. A spokesperson called the lawsuit unsubstantiated in a statement on Thursday.
“Integrserv’s lawsuit is entirely without merit and contains a number of false statements,” the statement reads. “The fact is that EQT is demonstrably committed to service provider diversity. In 2020, approximately 12% of our entire supplier spend to date — totaling approximately $40 million — has gone to over a hundred minority-owned businesses.
“Integrserv’s contract was terminated, along with a number of other contracts from non-minority owned businesses, as part of a program to drive efficiencies and accountability across EQT’s business.”
The lawsuit cites Section 1981 (a) of the Civil Rights Act that prohibits “discrimination on the basis of race, color, and ethnicity when making and enforcing contracts,” according to USA Today. The suit alleges that EQT awarded contracts to two of Bettis’ white business partners that had been previously awarded to IntegrServ.
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