Black UPS workers say company allowed hate on the job
Carol Ozemhoya | OW Contributor | 3/14/2019, 10:38 a.m.
Nineteen UPS workers are suing the parcel distributor, saying they suffered repeated racial discrimination and the company did nothing to stop it, reports CNN. Managers and supervisors enabled and even encouraged the hate at the distribution center in Maumee, Ohio, according to the lawsuit filed Wednesday afternoon in Lucas County Court in Ohio.
The workers claim nooses were hung above the workstation of an African-American employee, that a monkey doll dressed as a UPS employee was placed near others and the N-word was frequently used. Workers say a monkey doll was dressed as a UPS employee and placed near Black workers. The workers, many of whom have been at the company for more than two decades, argue the racist comments caused reactions ranging from “fear, anger and disgust to dismay” about the comments and lack of action from the company.
“UPS promptly investigated and took swift disciplinary action against those found to have engaged in inappropriate actions, including the discharge of two employees,” UPS Director of Corporate Media Relations Glenn Zaccara told CNN when asked for comment about the lawsuit. Zaccara said that since then, the company has participated in “remedial actions” in cooperation with the Ohio Civil Rights Commission to ensure employees are trained and has also monitored its operations to ensure a positive and harassment-free environment.
“The company has strict policies against harassment and discrimination,” Zaccara said. “When an incident is reported, UPS takes the matter seriously, thoroughly investigates and takes appropriate disciplinary action against those found responsible for misconduct. The lawsuit details a variety of incidents in the UPS distribution center during the workers’ years there. One worker says a group text message from White coworkers about possible lottery winnings in July 2016 contained “racially driven” and “offensive” messages, according to the lawsuit, including: “If you feel down and out, the noose is loose;” “Can we buy another noose with the winnings,” and “Like Clint Eastwood said, 'Hang 'em High.'” Screen grabs show an alleged group text using slurs. CNN obscured portions of the text to remove identifying information and profanity.
Lawyers say in the lawsuit the incident was reported to management, but no disciplinary measures were taken. The White coworkers maintained it was a joke, according to the lawsuit. In September 2016, “a White employee of UPS stated: ‘I'm late for a Klan meeting,'” according to the suit. Again, no action was taken, lawyers claim. The comment was made in front of one Black coworker and one White coworker, according to the suit.