- Last year, a group of General Motors employees filed a lawsuit against the company claiming they were subjected to a series of racist taunts by coworkers that included nooses, “whites only” graffiti, and swastikas around the factory.
- In a new interview with CNN, one plaintiff says it felt like he was at war every day that he went to work.
- GM says it takes “any reported incident with sensitivity and urgency” and it is complying with suit as required.
A group of eight African-American General Motors employees claim in a lawsuit that the company allowed racist taunts and abuse by white coworkers for more than a year, including nooses, swastikas and “whites only” signs found around its Toledo plant.
Their original lawsuit was filed in March 2018, in federal court for the Northern District of Ohio, but one of the plaintiffs, Marcus Boyd, opened up about his experience in a new interview with CNN, published Thursday.
“It was like being at war,” Boyd told the news channel about his time in the allegedly abusive workplace.
Court documents reveal a litany of complaints by Boyd and his fellow plaintiffs at the company’s Powertrain Toledo Transmission Operations plant in Ohio.
“These acts as well as others, more particularly described below, were considered by all plaintiffs to be acts of violent race discrimination, statements of hate personally affecting them as African-Americans, and as forming a hostile work environment instilling fear, anxiety, and recalling a legacy of reprehensible crimes against African-American,” the lawsuit says.
In one instance, the lawsuit claims that a white supervisor, “during a supposed team meeting about racial tolerance,” asked “[W]hat’s the big deal about nooses, there was never a Black person who was lynched that didn’t deserve it.” And was allegedly not disciplined for the comments.
GM did not respond to a request for comment. But in a statement to CNN, GM said the alleged incidents do not reflect its culture, and that it intended to fully comply with the court to resolve the issues:
Every day, everyone at General Motors is expected to uphold a set of values that are integral to the fabric of our culture. Discrimination and harassment are not acceptable and [are] in stark contrast to how we expect people to show up at work,”
We treat any reported incident with sensitivity and urgency, and are committed to providing an environment that is safe, open and inclusive. General Motors is taking this matter seriously and addressing it through the appropriate court process.”
The lawsuit claims that racist taunts, threats, and jeers “spread like wildfire” through the plant. Here’s the full list of alleged incidents from the lawsuit:
- White employees calling African-American employees “Boy”;
- A female African-American employee being called a “dumb Black crackhead bitch”;
- Swastikas painted and scratched on restroom stalls;
- Stick figures drawn or scratched on bathroom stalls with nooses around their necks;
- Drawings and scratching of pistols and guns on the bathroom stalls;
- Magazines such as “Guns and Ammo” touting the use of guns put on machines and in the break room; viii. Caucasian employees publicly stating that they are carrying guns in their cars and trucks parked on GM property;
- Caucasians wearing shirts underneath their coveralls with visible Nazi symbols on them; x. Calling African-American employees “monkey”;
- African-American employees being warned “to be careful” because a white employee’s “daddy was in the Klu Klux Klan”;
- African-American employees being told to go back to Africa where they belong;
- “Whites Only” signs hung on bathroom stall doors and written on walls outside the Men’s room; xiv. A White supervisor announcing, during a supposed team meeting about racial tolerance, “[W]hat’s the big deal about nooses, there was never a Black person who was lynched that didn’t deserve it.” That White supervisor was not disciplined;
- White employees calling African-American employees “DAN”, which is an acronym for “Dumb Arse N*****;
- A White employee intimidating an African-American employee by yelling in his ear in the breakroom, “Hey you be in my chair,” and pulling on the back side of the chair practically knocking the African-American over backwards;
- “Blacks suck,” and “N*****s not allowed” scratched or written on the bathroom walls; xviii. An African American being told to “watch his back when driving;”
- Writing on a White female’s property “N*****” Lover” because she happened to be seen walking with an African-American in the plant;
- A White person advising an African-American to get a gun to defend himself; xxi. Refusing to listen and to work for African-American team leaders, including causing the assembly line to shut down;
- Making threats of great bodily harm to beat an African-American team leader with a shovel and a clutch, and to shoot him with a gun;
- Making fun of the NAACP by cartoon characterization.
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