‘This Is Trump Country’: Black Former Employee at Florida Waste Management Company Alleges Co-Workers Taunted Him with Stuffed Monkey, Used Racial Slur

The US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission sued a waste management company after Black and Haitian American employees alleged they were subjected to a hostile work environment. 

The EEOC filed the lawsuit on behalf of the employees of Waste Pro of Florida. It was filed on Tuesday, Sept. 26.

EEOC Discrimination Lawsuit, Water Pro
EEOC filed a lawsuit against Water Pro of Florid after Black employees alleged that they were exposed to a hostile work environment discrimination. (EEOC Lawsuit)

Fednol Pierre, who served as a welder and worked at the Jacksonville location, said he was continuously harassed by his colleagues, according to the lawsuit. His co-worker, identified as William Watts, allegedly called him the N-word, said to go back to Haiti, adding that “there is no need for you here.” He was also told to “go back on the banana boat” and “this is Trump country,” according to the claim obtained by Atlanta Black Star.

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Pierre expressed his concerns to his supervisor, but the lawsuit alleged no disciplinary action was taken. In March 2022, less than a year after working at the location, he was approached by a supervisor who told him Watts and another co-worker named Mr. Shuman used racially offensive language when talking about him. He reported the harassment again, which was sent through human resources and prompted an investigation. 

Pierre continued to report his experience and expressed that he feared retaliation from his co-workers amid the probe into his claims. The lawsuit stated that when the company didn’t take action, he requested to work at a later time. However, he “still had to work with Mr. Watts and Mr. Shuman for an hour each day.”

According to court records, he also requested that it is not disclosed that he reported the racial discrimination claims, but Watts was informed anyway by regional HRM Risner. Risner also announced that there would be a staff meeting to address Pierre’s concerns after the investigation was concluded. 

“Before the staff meeting, [Pierre] and another Black employee discovered a stuffed monkey carrying an American flag in Mr. Pierre’s work area. Mr. Pierre immediately reported the monkey incident to management and demanded the stuffed monkey be removed and that management review video footage and conduct an investigation into the matter; however, no corrective action was taken before the staff meeting,” the filing said. 

The harassment from Watts and Shuman continued, the lawsuit alleged. Pierre felt like he was slighted, ignored, and given the most challenging tasks. He decided to quit about two weeks later. 

The lawsuit is seeking, in part, punitive damages for Black and Haitian American employees due to the “malicious and reckless conduct” of the company. 

Read the original story at Atlanta Black Star.

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