According to Hawaii News Now, Hawaiian Airlines employee Timothy Degrate found a noose near his locker. Degrate believes the items were left as a threat by his colleagues, and has filed a racial harassment and discrimination suit against the carrier, seeking damages and attorneys' fees.
"What that means to me: murder, death, intimidation," Degrate, who is black, said.
Degrate, who currently serves as a lead line service supervisor for Hawaiian, has been with the airline since 2000. He alleges that he began being harassed years ago, and that that harassment finally led to the noose incident, which he says happened in 2016.
"It was just a hostile environment to work in," Degrate said, adding that he has suffered intense psychological trauma due to the incident.
"Whenever there's a lynch rope and a noose toward a black person, immediately we consider that a death threat, there's no doubt about it," Degrate's attorney, Elizabeth Fujiwara, said.
The noose wasn't hanging from his locker — which is broken — but the locker next to his. Still, Degrate says he knew the noose was for him.
"I'm the only black person there," Degrate said.
The owner of the neighboring locker will serving as a witness for Degrate; he said that he heard other employees making offensive comments about Degrate, and agrees that the noose was meant for Degrate and not for him.
Hawaiian Airlines has denied any allegations of harassment in the workplace, but has promised that it has already begun improving its employee training practices.
"We are sorry that Mr. Degrate felt disrespected in any way," Ann Botticelli, senior vice president of corporate communications at Hawaiian Airlines, told Hawaii News Now in a statement.
"An independent investigation of Mr. Degrate’s allegations was unable to verify actions by specific individuals as described by Mr. Degrate, and we vigorously deny all allegations of workplace violence," Botticelli continued. "Having said that, because Hawaiian Airlines is committed to maintaining a fair and safe work environment we have taken additional efforts to improve workplace interaction at our Kona station, including mandatory staff-wide training on communicating and interacting with respect."