A group of seven warehouse workers received a major legal victory last week after they were awarded $15 million in a discrimination lawsuit they filed after being constantly bombarded with racist insults at work. According to the lawsuit, the men were not only insulted and referred to as “lazy, stupid Africans,” but they were also segregated from white employees who were encouraged to partake in discriminating against Black workers.
It seems nearly impossible for a week to go by without another discrimination lawsuit revealing how many Black people continue to work in racist environments. In addition to the systemic racism that is carried out through racially biased policies for promotions or hires, Black employees are also being faced with racially charged insults and working conditions that feel like a relic from the 1960s and earlier.
Seven warehouse workers for Matheson Trucking and Matheson Flight Extenders Inc., filed a lawsuit in Denver, Colorado, after they say white managers and supervisors encouraged racist behaviors and later fired a white employee who spoke out against the way they were treating Black employees, the Denver Post reported.
Among the many accusations detailed in the lawsuit, some of the most shocking included claims that the Black workers were being referred to as “lazy, stupid Africans” and being separated from white workers.
Many of the workers listed in the lawsuit were from Mali and one was from Brazil.
The lawsuit also claims that an employee once yelled that “all ni**ers should be shot.”
The lawsuit insists that a supervisor heard the loud comment but did not discipline the employee. Instead, that employee was later “promoted to a supervisory position.”
The plaintiffs added that when 2007 hit, conditions only grew worse when Leslie Capra took charge as the station manager.
They claimed she was “openly hostile towards black employees” and encouraged others to pelt Black workers with racist insults.
The behavior Black employees received with Capra in charge was apparently so shocking that a white employee, Dean Patricelli, said he couldn’t take it anymore.
He approached management and demanded that such discriminatory and racist behaviors stop, but it only resulted in him being fired after he was labeled by management as “the tribe’s assistant.”
Patricelli is also a plaintiff listed in the lawsuit and will be compensated for the wrongful termination.
“Basically, I did the right thing,” he said, according to The Daily Mail. “This isn’t 1960 anymore.”
Another plaintiff said he thought he was “back South again” because of the severity of the “old racist attitudes.”
Now that the courts have ruled in the men’s favor, the company has been ordered to pay $13 million in punitive damages, more than $300,000 in back pay for workers who were wrongfully terminated and an additional $650,000 for emotional distress.
The company will also have to pay for the group’s legal fees.
The company’s attorney released a statement saying that they plan to appeal the jury’s decision and insist that the company “prides itself on hiring and employing a highly diverse workforce consisting of men and women of different races and cultures.”