An African American factory worker, who believes he was fired in retaliation for reporting a shocking workplace incident, has filed a lawsuit against his employer alleging racial discrimination. According to a Daily Mail news report, Isiah Washington, 27, claims his former employer, Sierra Aluminum Company, in Riverside, discriminated against him in April when he was targeted by racist colleagues who hung a Ku Klux Klan hood above his work station.
Worker’s Account of Harassment
The lawsuit, filed in Riverside Superior Court, states Washington, a packer at the factory, was just one of five black workers in a 500-strong workforce. On April 27, he and three other African American workers were moved to a work area in the firm’s Union building by his supervisor. When Washington settled into his new area, he found a large white plastic sheet with eyehole cuts hanging directly in front of his station. Washington says in the lawsuit that he was offended by, fearful of and threatened by the hood.
He took a photo of the hood on his phone and called over his supervisor. But, instead of addressing his concern, the supervisor called him a “puto,” a derogatory Spanish word for “homosexual,” the lawsuit states. The supervisor simply told Washington to get back to his job. Washington also said other workers laughed at him. He said he suffered severe emotional distress, anxiety and fear due to the harassment. In the following months, he said he endured daily derogatory comments from his co-workers.
According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), it is against the law to harass a person because of that person’s race or color. Harassment may include racial slurs, offensive or derogatory remarks about a person’s race or color, or the display of racially-offensive symbols.
Even though the law doesn’t prohibit simple teasing, offhand comments or isolated incidents that are not serious, harassment is illegal when it is so frequent or severe that it creates a hostile work environment. The harasser can be the victim’s supervisor, a supervisor in another area, a co-worker, or someone who is not an employee of the employer, such as a client or customer.
If you or a loved one has been the victim of racial discrimination or harassment at the workplace, it is critical that you contact an experienced Riverside employment attorney who will fight to protect your rights and help you secure fair compensation for your losses. The best employment law firms will always offer a free consultation and comprehensive case evaluation to injured victims and their families.