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Lawsuit: Black UPS workers targeted with racist taunts and harassment

Lawsuit: Black UPS workers targeted with racist taunts and harassment
[Photo: Maarten van den Heuvel/Unsplash]

It’s 2019 and racism and racial discrimination are alive and well in the world.

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If this list of viral racists, or Dolce & Gabbana’s or Prada’s ideas of fashion, or the fact that black robots are discriminated against doesn’t convince you, maybe this will: 19 workers at a United Parcel Service distribution center in Maumee, 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” and created a hostile work environment.

According to the lawsuit, which was filed Wednesday afternoon in Lucas County Court in Ohio, that hostile work environment included an incident where one of the defendants allegedly hung two nooses over the desk of an African-American employee and then posted a picture of it to Facebook, the Toledo Blade reports. The employee was fired, but just days later, the suit claims, another African-American employee received text messages from white coworkers referencing the incident, saying charming things like, “If you feel down and out, the noose is loose.”

Then there were the alleged remarks about the KKK, the Confederate flags, frequent use of the N-word, and the stuffed monkey dressed as a UPS employee. Plus, the suit claims that African-American workers were not hired, promoted, given assignments, or disciplined equally to their white coworkers.

In June 2017, the Ohio Civil Rights Commission determined that there was “probable cause to believe that discrimination and retaliation had occurred” at the Maumee facility, the lawsuit states.

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.” You can read the lawsuit in its entirety on The Blade‘s site.

This isn’t the first time that UPS has been charged with discrimination. In 2018, UPS agreed to a $4.9 million settlement in a religious discrimination lawsuit over a policy that required male employees who deal with customers to cut their hair and shave their beards.

When reached for comment, UPS provided this statement:

UPS promptly investigated and took swift disciplinary action against those found to have engaged in inappropriate actions, including the discharge of two employees. 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.

The company has strict policies against harassment and discrimination. Diversity and inclusion are core values at UPS. When an incident is reported, UPS takes the matter seriously, thoroughly investigates and takes appropriate disciplinary action against those found responsible for misconduct.

We will not comment further on the specific details of the new lawsuit presented this week as we are reviewing the claims relative to the original facts revealed in 2016.

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