A Black network technician employed by Verizon is suing the company over an incident four years ago when she discovered a noose hanging above her desk. She claims she told her superiors, but no one did anything.
In the lawsuit filed Tuesday in Trenton’s U.S. District Court, Marisa Powell, a 30-year Verizon employee in Morristown, N.J., said the incident happened in June 2015. Powell alleges that a white coworker stalked her and yelled at her, but when she reported it to her supervisors and to the union reps, nothing was done.
Powell said she the noose was made of cable wires and left hanging above her desk from a support beam.
“Defendants were fully aware of the fact that plaintiff is an African-American woman, the history of African-Americans and symbols such as nooses, and the harm that would come to the plaintiff by hanging this noose for her to see,” according to the lawsuit.
Verizon is looking into the allegations, David Weissmann, a spokesman for the company, told NBC News.
“Verizon does not tolerate harassment or discrimination,” Weissmann said, according to NBC. “When discrimination or harassment comes to our attention, we investigate and take appropriate action.”
Powell said the harassment caused her to take a nine-month medical leave “due to the documented medical condition she had developed over the constant stalking,” according to the lawsuit.
Upon her return, Powell said Verizon reassigned her to work in the Madison office, but she claims she still had to interact with the co-worker with whom she had the initial complaint.
This time, however, Powell went to her supervisors, who allegedly told her that “Verizon could not protect her and to call 911 if she felt she was in danger,” NBC reports the lawsuit reads.
Further, Powell accused Verizon of violating the Americans with Disability Act by not providing special accommodations to address her needs after she returned from medical leave.
Powell is seeking compensatory and punitive damages, although no amount is specified in the lawsuit. She is also asking a judge to make Verizon pay her attorney’s fees.