Articles Tagged with hostile work environment

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. 

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