By N’dea Yancey-Bragg (USA TODAY)
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.”
The company itself is named as well as five supervisors and managers who defendants say maintained a racially hostile work environment, according to a copy of the lawsuit filed Wednesday in the Lucas County Court of Common Pleas and obtained by the Toledo Blade.
“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.
“UPS promptly investigated and took swift disciplinary action against those found to have engaged in inappropriate actions, including the discharge of two employees,” UPS spokesperson Dean Foust said in a statement. “Since that time the company has participated in remedial actions in cooperation with the Ohio Civil Rights Commission so that employees are trained and our operations are monitored to ensure we maintain a positive work environment free of harassment.”
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.