A lawsuit resulted in a $54,000 settlement on Oct. 11 for a Black worker who said a manager at a Phoenix moving company repeatedly used racial slurs and left black troll dolls imitating lynchings to harass him.
Clinton Lee said the daily harassment manager Gary Carpenter subjected the worker to at Arizona Discount Movers was so bad Lee felt forced to find another job, according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Carpenter is accused in a lawsuit the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed of calling Lee the N-word almost every day, the agency reported.
“If you’re not white, you’re not right” Carpenter reportedly said, according to the commission.
The agency also alleged in the lawsuit that Carpenter would start morning staff meetings by saying “White Power” and making a Nazi salute.
The supervisor also allegedly told Lee he could not enter the building because they were having a Ku Klux Klan meeting and he “put a statue of a jockey on his desk with a whip in the jockey’s hand tied in a noose,” the agency reported.
“He labeled the statue ‘Clint,'” according to the EEOC.
The commission also said Carpenter spray-painted a troll doll black, hung it from a hook in the middle of the facility, pointed to it and said, “Hey, Clint, look! That’s you!”
Lee complained to the owner, who told Lee to take the doll down if he did not like it, according to the commission.
“Since 2011, Arizona Discount Movers has required its employees sign a two-page ‘Rules and Employee Agreement,’ which included both ‘Negative attitudes, fighting, complainers will not be tolerated here’ and ‘Drugs, fighting, foul language, racism, arguing will be tolerated,'” the EEOC alleged.
Lee left the job in 2014 and was out of work for months, according to the Arizona Republic.
“Initially, (Lee) tried to justify the harassment as jokes or something he could just ignore, but over time it became increasingly stressful for him,” EEOC attorney Benjamin Price told the newspaper. “When the troll doll was hung in his workplace, he simply left that day.
“His wife saw the stress he was under and told him he didn’t have to continue to work in that environment.”
Price said the behavior is illegal.
“The employer tried to pass it off as: ‘This is just men. This is what they do,'” he told the Arizona Republic. “It’s amazing this sort of conduct still exists today.”
Arizona Discount Movers, which later apologized to Lee and wrote him a positive reference letter, initially denied creating a hostile work environment, the company told the U.S. District Court of Arizona in court filings the Republic obtained.
“Lee was not subjected to objectively severe or pervasive conduct that created an environment that a reasonable person would be likely to find hostile or abusive,” the company said.
Carpenter eventually lost his job at the company and was convicted in 2018 of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, according to records the Republic obtained. He was sentenced to five years in prison, the newspaper reported.
“Using a noose to terrorize an African-American is especially vicious, as it combines bigotry with a physical threat,” EEOC Regional Attorney Mary Jo O’Neill said in a written statement the Republic obtained. “The EEOC will keep fighting against racism in the workplace, and it will continue to emphasize that using nooses to taunt African-American employees is absolutely unacceptable.”