Many Black workers in Ohio filed a lawsuit against UPS, alleging the company allowed multiple racial transgressions and incidents in the past.
USA Today reports 19 workers employed at a United Parcel Service distribution center in Ohio filed a 46-page lawsuit alleging their employer, five supervisors and managers fostered an environment of racial hostility. Text messages, racist images and other objects and incidents were mentioned in the suit obtained by the Toledo Blade.
In one incident dating back to 2016, an unnamed defendant allegedly placed two nooses over a Black employee's desk as higher-ups laughed.
The defendant was fired, but management told the victim to keep the incident under wraps. According to USA Today, other workers planned to do a follow-up prank similar to that one the following day. Text messages revealed they tried to buy more nooses.
"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," lawyers for the 19 workers told media.
Among the numerous allegations, there were instances where white workers talked about Ku Klux Klan meetings and Confederate flags proudly displayed in the workplace. On one occasion, a stuffed monkey was dressed as a UPS employee as a "prank."
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The suit claims a litany of racist incidents. In another example, a white driver refused to deliver a package to a majority Black neighborhood. That driver reportedly called the area "'N****rville' or 'N****r City," the suit said.
The most glaring allegations claim UPS discriminated against Black workers, relegating them to the lowest ranks and actively prevented promotions.
"African-American employees are disproportionately employed by UPS in lower paying, strenuous, menial, part-time, or seasonal positions and systematically denied opportunities for higher paying, full-time, and supervisory positions," lawyers said in the suit.
According to a CNN report, the 19 workers' attorneys are asking a judge to award their clients $25,000 in damages for pain and suffering.
Amid the controversy, UPS has denied the claims and defended its actions. The company told CNN it took the proper precautions and investigated all allegations brought forth.
"UPS promptly investigated and took swift disciplinary action against those found to have engaged in inappropriate actions, including the discharge of two employees," UPS Director of Corporate Media Relations Glenn Zaccara told CNN.
"The company has strict policies against harassment and discrimination," Zaccara said. "When an incident is reported, UPS takes the matter seriously, thoroughly investigates and takes appropriate disciplinary action against those found responsible for misconduct."
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