Black employee sues Hawaiian Airlines after noose is left at his locker
In discrimination lawsuit, Timothy Degrate says he endured workplace harassment for six years
Hawaiian Airlines employee Timothy Degrate said that he found a noose near his locker that he believes his coworkers left as a threat against him.
According to Hawaii News Now, Degrate is now filing suit against the airline for racial harassment and discrimination.
“What that means to me: murder, death, intimidation,” Degrate, a lead line service supervisor for Hawaiian Airline, said of the noose.
“Whenever there’s a lynch rope and a noose toward a black person, immediately we consider that a death threat, there’s no doubt about it,” Degrate’s attorney, Elizabeth Fujiwara, said.
Although the noose was not hanging from his locker but was instead found on the locker next to his, Degrate knew that he had been targeted all the same.
“I’m the only black person there,” Degrate said.
As for the person whose locker was used to hang the noose, he will serve as a witness for Degrate. He agreed with Degrate’s assessment that he had been harassed often and that the noose was meant for him.
‘A hostile environment to work in’
Degrate claimed that the harassment had been happening since he joined the airline in 2000, but the noose incident happened in 2016.
“It was just a hostile environment to work in,” Degrate said.
He also claimed that he had suffered psychological trauma because of all he had been subjected to while working for the airline.
As for the airline itself, they have denied claims of harassment.
In a statement from Ann Botticelli, senior vice president of corporate communications at Hawaiian Airlines, the airline said, “We are sorry that Mr. Degrate felt disrespected in any way.”
“An independent investigation of Mr. Degrate’s allegations was unable to verify actions by specific individuals as described by Mr. Degrate, and we vigorously deny all allegations of workplace violence. Having said that, because Hawaiian Airlines is committed to maintaining a fair and safe work environment we have taken additional efforts to improve workplace interaction at our Kona station, including mandatory staff-wide training on communicating and interacting with respect.”