Black Workers at UPS Facility in Ohio Faced Decades of Racial Hostility, Lawsuit Say

N'dea Yancey-Bragg, USA Today, March 14, 2019

Nineteen workers at a United Parcel Service distribution center in Ohio are suing their employer, claiming management at the facility “enabled, tolerated, and purposefully promoted and encouraged a culture of racism and racially discriminatory conduct.”

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“African-American employees come to work each day not knowing whether a racist comment or conduct will confront them, being concerned that smirking or laughing white employees are ridiculing them because of their race, and walking on eggshells to avoid triggering a problem,” the suit reads.

The 46-page lawsuit details a pattern of racist incidents and discriminatory behavior that workers, some of whom have been at the company for more than two decades, witnessed at the distribution center in Maumee.

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In a July 2016 incident, the lawsuit alleges, one of the defendants created two nooses and hung them over the desk of an African American employee while a supervisor and other white co-workers made jokes.

Although that employee was fired, the victim was told not to speak about the incident and that he could be disciplined for taking photographs of the nooses.

Days later, the suit claims, another African American employee received text messages from white co-workers in a group chat regarding potential lottery winnings that contained references to hangings such as: “If you feel down and out, the noose is loose” and “Can we buy another noose with the winnings.”

Although the incident was reported to management, employees say no disciplinary action was taken.

The lawsuit also claims that in September 2016 a white employee refused to deliver a package to a predominately African American neighborhood and used a racial slur to describe the area.

Although the employee was initially fired, she was “almost immediately, voluntarily reinstated by UPS,” according to the suit.

These incidents, along with others including remarks about Ku Klux Klan meetings, the presence of Confederate flags and the display of a stuffed monkey dressed as a UPS employee, combined to create a racially hostile work environment, the suit claims.

The employees also claim that African American workers faced discrimination in the hiring, promotion and discipline processes. {snip}

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The employees are seeking “declaratory and injunctive relief” concerning the alleged discrimination, compensatory damages exceeding $25,000, legal fees and an unspecified amount of punitive damages “to deter future unlawful conduct.”

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