A culture clash has reportedly rocked the Department of Aviation at the heating and cooling plant at O’Hare International Airport, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.
According to the publication, at the center of the controversy are “the plant’s predominantly white city workforce” and the majority-black independent contractors “assigned to do pipefitting work there.”
The outbreak of racism at the Department of Aviation is not surprising, given the department’s racial make-up. But it is nevertheless astounding in the wake of the racist and sexist emails uncovered during an investigation.
— Chicago Sun-Times (@Suntimes) September 29, 2018
Sources said tensions flared when a trade magazine featuring a Black woman was recently posted on the break room refrigerator with the n-word written across her forehead. Racists have also reportedly vandalized the plant with Swastikas.
Newly-appointed Aviation Commissioner Jamie Rhee was swift to refer the incident to Inspector General Joe Ferguson, and she ordered retraining for the entire aviation department.
“Discrimination or intolerance in any form will not be tolerated by the Chicago Department of Aviation,” aviation department spokesperson Lauren Huffman wrote in an emailed statement, the report said.
“We take these allegations very seriously, and immediately referred them to the proper authorities at the Office of the Inspector General. We understand that an investigation has been opened.”
A spokesperson for the inspector general’s office confirmed that its investigators are “taking appropriate action on the information provided,” the report noted.
This latest outbreak of racism at the Department of Aviation follows the racist, sexist and homophobic email scandal that Ferguson uncovered while investigating the son of a former alderman, Paul Hansen.
Hansen was accused of using his Water Management email account to sell guns. In one email, he allegedly called Black folks “wild animals,” and another with the subject: “Watermelon Protection,” included the image of a Ku Klux Klan robe on a stick in the middle of a watermelon patch, the report states.
Four current and two former Water Management employees—all African-Americans—are now suing the department for creating “a hostile and abusive work environment.”