‘The Price of Coming to Work’: Feds Say White Supervisor at General Electric Affiliate In North Dakota Threatened to Hang Black Employee, Drag Him Behind Truck

The federal government has taken action against a North Dakota company after a Black employee endured being called racial slurs and was threatened with violence by white coworkers and supervisors for at least three years.

According to the lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on May 4, Hayward Jones was called the N-word and a monkey, and a supervisor threatened to “slap the black off” and lynch him while he was employed at LM Wind Power Blades Inc.

Feds Say White Supervisor at General Electric Affiliate In North Dakota Threatened to Hang Black Employee, Drag Him Behind Truck
Employees and a supervisor at LM Wind Power Blades Inc in North Dakota are accused of racial harassment. (Photo: @HareketProject/Twitter)

The federal agency filed the lawsuit after failed attempts to agree to a settlement.

Related: ‘She Begged Me to Turn White’: Michigan Family Sues District for Not Protecting Their Adopted Black Daughter from Years of Racial Harassment 

“No person should have to endure hateful racial slurs and threats of violence as the price of coming to work,” said Greg Gochanour, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Chicago District Office, in a statement. “Federal discrimination laws make it clear that workplace harassment is illegal, and employers are responsible for stopping it. It is imperative that complaints of harassment be taken seriously and addressed without delay.”

The lawsuit alleges the wind turbine blade manufacturer violated Title VII, which prohibits both racial harassment and retaliation against workers.

Jones allegedly faced racial harassment while he worked at the General Electric affiliate since 2016. 

In one incident, a white supervisor threatened to hang him from a bridge or drag him behind a truck. His coworkers also took their racist bullying online, tagging him in Facebook posts discussing “white power.”  

The EEOC says the threats and harassment subjected Jones to a hostile working environment, and the agency accused the company of worsening the situation by not promptly taking corrective steps to stop or prevent the maltreatment of Jones.

According to the federal complaint, Jones reported the harassment to management and the human resources department. He also filed a complaint with EEOC, and instead of addressing the issues, LM Wind Power fired him in October 2019 after he got into a heated argument with a coworker online, the lawsuit says.

Jones’ white supervisor, on the other hand, received a reprimand but was not fired for threatening to kill him.

The EEOC has asked the court to order back pay for Jones and compensation for his past and future losses, including personal property, medical expenses, and retirement or pension contributions not covered by LM Wind’s benefit plan. It has also requested that the company compensate him for his pain and suffering and damages for its “malicious” and “recklessly indifferent conduct.”

A jury will determine the amount.

LM Wind could also be ordered to change its policies to ensure racial discrimination can no longer run rampant if the judge rules in the federal agency’s favor.

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