A federal jury awarded nearly $15 million to seven warehouse workers who filed a complaint against a trucking company of separating black workers from their white counterparts and hurling racial epitaphs against them. Six of the plaintiffs who are black and from Mali were fired due to their race and a white whistle-blower was fired from Matheson Trucking and Matheson Flight Extenders Inc for speaking out against the racist treatment his co-workers received, filed the suit in 2010. According to the Denver Post, managers at the California-based company would force blacks to work on one side of the warehouse and have the whites working on the other. Supervisors would also call blacks, “lazy stupid Africans” and allow their white colleagues to use the N-word freely throughout the workplace. In the lawsuit, plaintiffs stated once an employee yelled out that “all blacks should be shot,” a superior who heard the disgusting remark never reprimanded or disciplined the employee. Later on, the white employee who yelled out the nasty comment was promoted to a supervisor.
Dean Patricelli, a white co-worker and plaintiff in the suit spoke up to his bosses about the vicious treatment, was called, “the tribe’s assistant,” according to the filling and was quickly fired afterwards. According to Patricelli,
Basically, I did the right thing. This isn’t 1960 anymore.
In internal company memos obtained by the plaintiffs, they revealed supervisors zeroed in on black employees to be fired and all the Africans who worked the graveyard shift were laid off and white temporary employees were given their shifts. The hostile work conditions were taken to new heights in 2007 when Leslie Capra became the station manager according to the lawsuit where it claims:
Ms. Capra became more openly hostile towards black employees, encouraging the supervisors and leads under her management to do likewise. Under Ms. Capra’s management, black employees were discriminated against with respect to almost every aspect of their employment.
On Wednesday, a jury came back and ruled Matheson, which transports mail for the US Postal Service, FedEx and UPS, must pay $14 million in punitive damages. The judgement also included $318,000 in back pay for workers who had their hours slashed and fired due to their race, $650,000 for emotional distress and will pay the plaintiffs’ legal bill. Matheseon attorney Stacey Campbell released a statement where she claimed the company:
Prides itself on hiring and employing a highly diverse workforce consisting of men and women of different races and cultures.
The company also stated they are planning on appealing the ruling.