Every day, you can see the distinctive brown United Parcel Service trucks crisscrossing Milwaukee as their drivers pick up and drop off packages. While UPS can deliver your parcel anywhere in the world, the company is struggling with a serious employment law matter right here at home.
Nineteen workers at a UPS distribution center are suing the company over racial discrimination and harassment, claiming management at the center “enabled, tolerated, and purposefully promoted and encouraged a culture of racism and racially discriminatory conduct."
UPS and five of its supervisors and managers are accused of maintaining a hostile work environment in which "African-American employees come to work each day not knowing whether a racist comment or conduct will confront them, being concerned that smirking or laughing white employees are ridiculing them because of their race, and walking on eggshells to avoid triggering a problem.”
The 46-page complaint details racial incidents and behavior that span two decades at the Ohio facility, USA Today reported.
In a 2016 incident, a defendant hung a pair of nooses over an African-American employee’s desk while a supervisor and other workers cracked jokes. The employee was fired, but the victim was ordered to keep quiet about the incident and told he could face discipline for photographing the nooses.
A few days later, another African-American worker received text messages such as, “If you feel down and out, the noose is loose” and other references to hangings.
Two months later, a white employee refused to deliver a package to a predominately black neighborhood and was fired after describing the area with a racial epithet. However, she was “almost immediately, voluntarily reinstated,” the lawsuit states.
Other incidents include workplace remarks about the KKK, and displays of Confederate flags and a monkey doll dressed in a UPS uniform, the lawsuit states.
UPS said it investigated the allegations and fired two employees. It also said it has taken steps to “maintain a positive work environment free of harassment."
Workers who endure years of racial discrimination and harassment want more than platitudes in response. An attorney experienced in employment law litigation can help employees obtain compensation, changes in policy and other meaningful forms of justice in the workplace.