According to a new lawsuit, a Black deliveryman who was handed a noose by a New York City butcher, the owner of the famed Ottomanelli & Sons Meat Market, says that he is too traumatized by the incident to return to work.
Victor Sheppard said that he was not comfortable returning to work with Hunts Point meat distributor Mosner Family Brands because they continued to serve the butcher even after the noose incident.
“I could have lost my life or been badly injured or in jail, and it didn’t mean anything to them,” Sheppard said. “It’s not easy returning to an environment where you mean nothing.”
According to Sheppard’s attorney, Wylie Stecklow, “Victor could not return to that environment. His employer knew exactly what happened and was supportive but they never stopped doing business with Ottomanelli.” Stecklow added that Sheppard was “unable to sleep through the night and unsure when his life will return to normal.”
Sheppard’s boss, Michael Mosner, has replied by saying that Sheppard was offered both disability leave and grief counseling but did not take either.
“Naturally we were horrified about what happened,” Mosner said, adding that Sheppard would have been able to have a different route but did not show up to work on two occasions, leaving the company with “no alternative” but to send him notice that the company believed he had abandoned his job.
“We did everything we could to hold his spot. He just didn’t do his part,” he said.
The suit stems from an April 5 morning meat delivery in which Joe Ottomanelli handed Sheppard a hand-fashioned noose and reportedly told Sheppard, “Here is your gift. You can put it around your neck and pull if you want to end it all. If you are feeling stressed out I can help you with it.”
Ottomanelli has since been charged with a hate crime.