Black GM workers sue over discriminatory environment, nooses and ‘whites only’ signs hung in Ohio plant
At least nine Black General Motors workers in Ohio have filed a class action lawsuit charging the automaker with tolerating a hostile and toxic work environment.
The complaint outlined the verbal abuse and racist symbols workers experienced like a noose that was hung to intimidate people of color in 2017. The plaintiffs in the lawsuit, which was filed in September, allege that at least five nooses were found hanging from the ceiling at the GM Powertrain & Fabrications plant in Toledot, the Detroit Free Press reports.
According to the complaint, it lists numerous incidents that were aimed at Blacks that the carmaker failed to take action on, including: “racial harassment directed at African-American staff, including swastikas, stick figures with nooses around their necks and ‘whites only’ signs painted on bathroom stalls; white workers wearing shirts emblazoned with Nazi insignia under their coveralls, and white workers telling their black co-workers to go back to Africa and calling them ‘boy.’”
“I was startled, really startled by it,” said Mark Edwards, an African-American employee who has worked for GM for 40 years. One of the nooses was hanging right above his work area.
“I couldn’t understand who in my work area disliked me that much or had that much hatred to hang a noose by my job.”
Kenny Taylor, saw that noose and is also suing because of the toxic culture that GM allowed to persist in the workplace and its failure to protect its employees.
“When I’d go to the bathrooms, I saw Nazi symbols on the walls and “Hate blacks” and “Blacks shouldn’t be here,”‘ he told the paper. He has been working for the company since 1978.
The plaintiffs also made claim in the lawsuit that a white supervisor said during a meeting: “what’s the big deal about nooses? There was never a black person who was lynched that didn’t deserve it.”
GM issued a statement saying that its workers have undergone anti-discrimination and anti-harassment training as a result of the incident. They challenged Edwards version of the events.
“Every day, everyone at General Motors is expected to uphold a set of values that are integral to the fabric of our culture. Discrimination and harassment are not acceptable and in stark contrast to how we expect people to show up at work,” the car maker said in a statement.
“General Motors is taking this matter seriously and addressing it through the appropriate court process.”