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Racial discrimination suit filed against large shipping carrier

A group of 19 African-American workers is suing a major shipping company for permitting a racially hostile work environment in one of its distribution centers. The company has distribution centers in all 50 states, including Florida, but the allegations giving rise to the suit took place in Ohio.

According to the lawsuit, the hostile environment spans nearly 20 years. In 2017, the Ohio Civil Rights Commission, or OCRC, investigated and determined that probable cause existed regarding the claims. The lawsuit was filed thereafter. The OCRC did not sanction the company but entered an agreement to take remedial measures to prevent further incidents.

According to the suit, African-American employees were often subjected to racial jokes, comments and other conduct. In one incident, an African-American employee found a pair of rope nooses strung at his desk. This act was followed with denigrating text messages alluding to the nooses and racially based jokes, including those from a supervisor. The employee was threatened with disciplinary measures if photos were taken.

In addition to claims of hostile work environment, the suit claims that African-American employees were passed over for promotion despite longer work histories and superior qualifications. Plaintiffs further allege that white employees were often given better work assignments.

Employment discrimination can take several forms. Failing to hire or promote a person because of race is a direct form of discrimination. A hostile work environment that condones harassing conduct is another form of discrimination. In this case, the lawsuit alleges both types of discrimination. For those who have been subjected to either form, the employee may file a complaint with a state or federal agency such as a state civil rights commission or the EEOC. The employee also has the right to contact an employment law attorney for assistance.

Source: USA Today, "Black workers at UPS facility in Ohio faced decades of racial hostility, lawsuit says.," N'dea Yancey-Bragg, March 13, 2019

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