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An African-American garbage-hauling company has filed a $24 million lawsuit against the city of Chicago, a waste-removal company and a teamsters union, claiming that the trio conspired to keep the minority-owned business from competing for Chicago garbage contracts. 

According to the Cook County Record, Linda and Jesse McGee, owners of Linda Construction Inc., claim that Allied Waste Transportation Inc., Teamsters Local 731 and several individuals named in the lawsuit conspired to keep LCI from competing for existing contracts after using the company to fulfill a minority requirement to win bids reserved for minority businesses.

The lawsuit also charges "discrimination, conspiracy, violation of equal protection, breach of contract and interference with a contract against the various defendants," the County Record reports.

Court documents viewed by the County Record claim that in 2010 the city awarded Allied a waste-hauling contract under the provision that it partner with minority-owned LCI. It was supposed to be a three-year mentorship program for the small African-American business. The plan, according to court records, was that Allied, a subsidiary of Arizona-based Republic Services Inc., would show LCI the ropes and help train its employees on the proper way to do business. Once the mentorship contract was over, LCI would be ready to compete for larger contracts.

LCI owners claim that once the three-year contract was up, Allied conspired with the "city government and the Teamsters" to prevent the small business from meeting the requirements of the probationary contract.

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"The defendants' intention was to make it look like plaintiffs (LCI) could not perform the required work or that plaintiffs' company failed or became insolvent," the complaint read, according to the County Record. "Defendants wanted to make it look like the minority owned contractor in this case could not be awarded a city contract because of its failure to do the work, and not due to the fact that it was minority owned."

According to the report, LCI is asking for $24 million in compensatory damages and the right to bid for the city's waste-hauling contract.

The city of Chicago, Allied Waste and the teamsters union did not comment on the lawsuit.

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Read more at the Cook County Record.