Worker sues after finding racist figurine in locker at Goodyear

Michelle Keahey, East Texas Bureau Jun. 12, 2012, 7:27am

UPDATE: The plaintiff notified the Record on Sept. 13, 2013, that he had dropped this lawsuit. 

A production worker has filed a racial discrimination lawsuit against his employer after he found a racist figure in his locker and his employer failed to take remedial action.

K.A. filed suit against Qualitech Maintenance Inc. and Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. on June 7 in the Eastern District of Texas, Beaumont Division.

K.A., an African-American, was hired by Qualitech, a staffing company, in 2002 and was employed as a production operator and supervisor at the Goodyear rubber plant in Beaumont.

According to the lawsuit, K.A. states he was subjected to discrimination and a hostile work environment at the defendant's Beaumont plant because he is black.

K.A. alleges that following the 2011 Memorial Day holiday, he returned to his 12-hour shift and found a racist figurine in his locker. The figurine, depicting a black man eating a watermelon, had a rope around its neck, and was tied to a hook inside the locker, according to the lawsuit.

"He was stunned by this most insensitive and unlawful display of extreme racism in the workplace," the suit states.

Alexander reported the incident and claims he unable to continue working the entire shift.

According to the suit, the human resources manager at Goodyear allegedly "relayed to the Plaintiff that Defendants have had similar incidents of racism at the plant for years."

He states that since the incident, he has suffered from insomnia, anxiety, depression and other related mental discomfort. It was months before the doctor released K.A. to work in August 2011, the suit states.

"Defendants were aware all along that the plant was a hazardous work place for African-Americans but failed to take effective remedial action to ensure racist incidents of a crass nature would not happen again," the lawsuit states.

The defendants are accused of violating K.A.'s civil rights and for violation of The Family and Medical Leave Act.

The plaintiff is asking for an award of actual, compensatory, liquidated and punitive damages, plus interest, court costs and attorney's fees.

Alexander is represented by Houston attorney Peter Costea.

U.S. District Judge Marcia A. Crone is assigned to the case.

Case No. 1:12-cv-00282

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