The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced it has sued CNF Inc. subsidiary Emery Worldwide Airlines on charges of commonplace harassment of 11 black workers and one white worker at its Kearny, NJ mail-processing center.
According to the suit, managers at Emery condoned or participated in such behavior as displaying hangman's nooses, using racial slurs and vandalizing company trucks and personal automobiles used by black workers.
“The suit details acts of harassment such as displaying hangman's nooses, using racial slurs and insults, and vandalizing employee automobiles and company trucks driven by black employees,” EEOC said in a press release. “All of these acts were either condoned and/or participated in by managers at Emery.”
Emery spokesperson Nancy Colvert said the company denies the allegations. The company has also denied allegations of racial discrimination made in a lawsuit that several black Emery drivers had filed in state court in New Jersey.
“When top management at a facility makes clear their intention to treat African-American employees in a discriminatory manner, the effects of their prejudice spread throughout the workplace,” said EEOC regional attorney Jacqueline McNair. “The employer allowed race discrimination to escalate until the outrageous became the commonplace.”
Both lawsuits ask for compensation for emotional pain and humiliation of the 12 workers involved, and that Emery take action against future discriminatory practices.