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FOX25 Investigates: Fired worker claims racial discrimination by cruise ship boss

by: Eric Rasmussen, Erin Smith Updated:

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BOSTON - FOX25 Investigates uncovered allegations of racism on a popular cruise ship on Boston after a former worker filed a discrimination complaint with the state.

Santino Malok said he was fired by the Spirit of Boston just two weeks after “complaining to management about offensive racial jokes” made by his supervisor, according to his filing with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination.

“He asked the company to do the right thing over and over,” said Malok’s attorney Jay Sullivan. “They refused. And I think what he wants them to do now is accept responsibility.”

Malok is one of the Lost Boys of Sudan – the tens of thousands of children who fled their homeland after the civil war began in the 1980s. Those children walked thousands of miles to escape to neighboring Ethopia and Kenya.

Malok said he his journey on foot to a refugee camp lasted several months and finally came to the U.S. in 2001 as a refugee.

“We walk,” said Malok. “There are no cars that you can take, no. We walk.”

He says that same determination helped him find work after relocating to the U.S. and he eventually landed a job working as a crew member on the Spirit of Boston for four years.
           
“No one going to say Santino never do his job,” said Malok. “I love my job and I'm the first person to be on the boat.”

Entertainment Cruises – Spirit of Boston’s parent company – declined an interview request, citing “employee privacy guidelines.”

But FOX25 Investigates obtained the company’s response to Malok’s discrimination complaint.

The company called Malok’s claim he was fired because of race “absolutely meritless” and said he was terminated for “insubordination” after failing to follow his supervisor’s instructions – allegations Malok strongly denies.

FOX25 bought two tickets for a lunch cruise on the Spirit of Boston and observed a diverse group of workers on board.

Malok says most of his experiences on the job were positive, but told FOX25 the company’s failure to address his complaints forced him to open a formal case with the state.

“If they would have solved the problem at the beginning, I would not be here,” said Malok.

Malok’s discrimination complaint with the state is pending and he and his attorney told FOX25 they are still deciding what action to take next.

Malok now lives in Roxbury and says he’ll keep seeking the American dream because he can never truly go home.

“I came here to look for a better life,” Malok told FOX25. “If you (go) over there, you may be killed before you…even go to your village to see your families.”

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