Suit alleges history of racial discrimination at Goodyear

Marilyn Tennissen Jun. 12, 2012, 7:49am

A worker's recent lawsuit against Goodyear describes an alleged history of racism at the company's Beaumont rubber plant.

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

He claims that in May 2011 he found a figurine of a black man eating a watermelon hanging by a noose in his company locker.

"However, the incident to which Plaintiff was subjected on May 31, 2011, was not an isolated incident at the plant," Alexander's lawsuit, filed by Houston attorney Peter Costea, 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 lists the following alleged incidents as evidence of the problems at the plant:

  • April 2011
    A noose was found hanging up between the P&L lines at unit 880
  • Late 2010 or early 2011
    An employee found in a desk drawer a letter stating that "n------ are lazy."
  • January or February 2011
    A Goodyear operator disclosed to other employees, including plaintiff Kenan Alexander, that he heard an employee in the Natsyn Unit that he disliked "n----- President Obama and also that all n------ thought they were running the country now." The operator claims supervisors and employees in attendance laughed at the comments.
  • February 2011
    A white employee referred to black employees at the plant as "Negroes and colored." Plaintiff Kenan Alexander claims he told the white employee, "it's 2011 and you can't refer to them as such." Alexander alleges he reported the incident to the foreman, but the foreman took the incident lightly and did not admonish the employee.
  • 2009-2010
    Graffiti in the plant's bathroom and cafeteria depicted KKK swastikas. The graffiti was removed but is "occasionally reappeared in the same places."
  • 2007-2008
    An employee wrote on a safety card that the leaders of the Confederate Army should still be around and that slavery should still be legal.

    Alexander's suit states that Goodyear management issued a memo relating to the May 31, 2011, noose in the locker incident experienced by Alexander. The memo stated that management was interviewing several employees, and asked that anyone with knowledge of the incident step forward. According to the suit, management stated that the incident violated company policies and that racially offensive materials or graffiti "would not be tolerated."

    "Apparently, this action bore no fruit, for in July 2011 the word 'n-----' had been written down on a table in the Qualitech break room multiple times," the suit states. "Also, in early August 2011 a swastika was found grafittied in a restroom."

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