Friedman & Houlding LLP represents Weldon Moore an African American truck driver who worked at EXCEL USA in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Moore claims, among other things, that he was subjected to a retaliatory termination for filing the racial discrimination claims against EXCEL in federal court. Vice President of Operations over the Lake Charles division of EXCEL, Shaun Dunn, admitted in sworn testimony that days after EXCEL was served with the Summons and Complaint filed in court, he called Mr. Moore and advised, “don’t return to work until you hear back.”
Mr. Moore did not hear back from EXCEL for a full month, and did so only after he filed an Amended Complaint in Court alleging retaliatory termination. Upon filing the Amended Complaint, Mr. Moore received a text message from Dunn stating that Mr. Moore would be suspended for three weeks. Dunn testified that he alone made the decision to suspend Mr. Moore for three weeks, and that the “main” cause for suspension was Mr. Moore’s use of Louisiana Pigment’s equipment without prior authorization, a claim that is not supported in the record. Indeed, Dunn admits that no one from Louisiana Pigment complained about or commenced investigation into Mr. Moore’s use of Louisiana Pigment’s equipment. Dunn testified that the reason for allowing a month to pass before notifying Mr. Moore of the suspension was that he sought Louisiana Pigment’s approval for Mr. Moore to return to the job site and spoke with Louisiana Pigment manager Chris Jennings for such approval. However, Chris Jennings testified that no such conversation took place. Former EXCEL Safety Manager Doug Stephson testified that he had never heard of an EXCEL employee being suspended—let alone, suspended for three weeks—for unauthorized use of Louisiana Pigment equipment.
The testimony to date points to EXCEL’s pretext for its termination of Mr. Moore in retaliation for Mr. Moore’s protected activity of filing claims of racial discrimination against EXCEL. Deposition testimony from several witnesses, both former employees of EXCEL and other non-EXCEL employed witnesses corroborate Mr. Moore’s claims of regularly recurring racial harassment by Mr. Moore’s former supervisor at the Louisiana Pigment facility in Lake Charles, Jeff Addison. Addison resigned from EXCEL after Mr. Moore made several complaints to management and Human Resources concerning his racial harassment, but was never the subject of an investigation by EXCEL. Addison himself admitted in sworn testimony that the term “Black mother****er”—a term Mr. Moore was regularly subjected to while employed at EXCEL—was in use at the EXCEL project site at Louisiana Pigment, as were racist jokes. Witnesses testified that Addison regularly referred to Mr. Moore as “Black mother****er” at the job site.
As reported in Local Press, a Redmond, Washington-area carpenter for BNBuilders was threatened with a noose bearing his name at a Meta (formerly Facebook) worksite, after being subjected to the n-word, “jokes” about picking cotton, and other racially derogatory remarks and conduct from his supervisor and coworkers. Friedman & Houlding LLP represents the carpenter, James Myers. Two men have since been charged criminally in connection with the noose.
Employer BNBuilders was the general contractor on Meta’s Building X construction site in Redmond, Washington. Press reports that carpenter James Myers, an African-American man, endured racially offensive comments from early in his employment with BNBuilders. Multiple times employees called him “black boy” when asking him to complete tasks. His supervisors made extremely racially offensive “jokes”: an Assistant Superintendent repeatedly told Myers “I’m woke” in a derisive manner, then asked Myers’s Lead, “are you woke?” His lead replied, “I ain’t racist– n***** n***** n*****!”–repeating the N-word several times. The Assistant Superintendent and Lead then laughed, while Myers watched in shock.
More than once, his Assistant Superintendent racially harassed Myers using “cotton”: in front of multiple employees in the field. His AS walked up to Myers and told him: “James, I got something for you.” Myers saw that something was clasped in his AS’ hand. Conscious of all the tradesworkers watching, Myers told him “no,” and tried to deflect him. His AS insisted, “open it!” He then took and opened Myers’s hand, and handed him a ball of “cotton”–the white fiber from cottonwood trees, resembling that of agricultural cotton plants. His AS told Myers, “I picked it for you!” and laughed uproariously.
University Systematically Whitewashed Valid Harassment Complaints by Black Employees
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign employees Derick Brown, Atiba Flemons, and Jeffrey Taylor are suing the University for racial discrimination and racial harassment. Central District of Illinois, 2:19-cv-02020. They have filed a motion to certify a class of thousands of Black employees seeking a Court Order ending illegal racial harassment. The motion shows, based on records produced by the University, that over the class period of six years the University has corroborated exactly zero complaints of discrimination against Black employees.
Mr. Brown, a machinist at the University’s Facilities & Services department, whose initial complaint in 2017 concerned a coworker’s donning a KKK-style hood while other coworkers, including Mr. Brown’s supervisor, looked on and laughed, testified to the University’s indifference: “How can you not say that’s racial when the KKK hood over a guy’s face that are all white? And that’s not racial to a black man? And they find it not racial?”
Friedman & Houlding LLP represents Weldon Moore, an African American truck driver who worked at EXCEL USA in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. As alleged in the Amended Complaint the Superintendent of EXCEL’s operations at Louisiana Pigment plant in Lake Charles racially harassed Mr. Moore, often calling him and other African American employees “Black motherf*****”, telling Mr. Moore that he wished he could call his African American coworker the “N” word, and repeating a disgusting “joke”: “Mo, if a Black man and a Mexican man fell off a high-rise building, who do you think would hit the ground first?” When Mr. Moore (known as “Mo”), replied out of shock, “I don’t know, boss,” the Superintendent laughed and said, “Who gives a f***?”
As alleged in the Amended Complaint Mr. Moore complained first to Human Resources, in the presence of the EXCEL Louisiana Pigment plant project manager. The Human Resources representative said that she would keep his complaint on file. But neither Human Resources nor the EXCEL project manager engaged in any follow-up inquiries. The racial harassment not only continued, but Mr. Moore’s complaint to HR also resulted in retaliation from the Superintendent. He cut Moore’s days. When Mr. Moore spoke up about these changes to his boss, his boss simply replied, “You Black motherf*****, if you don’t like it, then drag the f*** up,” which Mr. Moore understood to mean “quit.”
In his next complaint Human Resources forced Mr. Moore to explain the racial harassment in the presence of his harasser, the Superintendent. The Superintendent stood up and screamed at Mr. Moore, “you mother*****” and stormed out of the meeting. Incredibly, he kept his job. When Mr. Moore returned to his work station, a member of management pulled up in his truck, handed him his business card, stating, “I don’t ever want you to let him or anyone else talk to you that way. If he does that again, call me.”
A federal judge in the Western District of Oklahoma has denied Northeastern State University’s motion to dismiss a former employee’s claims of sexual harassment and retaliation under both Title VII and Title IX, after a coworker allegedly put his hands down her pants.
Deanie Hensley, the plaintiff in the action, worked for NSU in Tahlequah, Oklahoma for approximately 13 years. She alleged in her First Amended Complaint that multiple supervisors and co-workers engaged in sexually inappropriate behavior over that time, including sharing sexual cartoons and remarking on women’s bodies, but Hensley’s complaints resulted in no changes. After her complaint about a particular supervisor resulted in retaliation including stripping Hensley of job duties, she decided to take a position with a contract company that provided the university’s mail services. The joint employment with NSU and this company allowed her to continue working at NSU and using her expertise and familiarity with the NSU campus and personnel. However, Hensley alleges that one of the coworkers who had a habit of making offensive remarks sought her out on the job, then: “reached across the counter and put his hands down her jeans, with the backs of his hands against her stomach. He reached down to her panty line. He then pulled her belt buckle and shook it, commenting on how she had been ‘losing weight.'”
Shaken and traumatized by the assault, Hensley alleges that she complained to NSU campus police. Following even more complaints that the harasser was following Ms. Hensley and approaching near her in violation of a protective order, Hensley alleges in her Complaint that Steven Turner, NSU’s President, threatened the contract company with the loss of its contract if it did not remove Ms. Hensley from the NSU campus. Ms. Hensley alleges the inevitable result of this threat would be that she would lose her job–and that in fact, she did lose her job as a consequence.