African-American employees at a Turner Industries plant in Paris, Texas were the subject of racial discrimination and were targeted by management if they complained, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said on April 14.
According to an EEOC letter, Black employees at the plant “were subjected to unwelcome racial slurs, comments and intimidation, racial graffiti, nooses in the workplace and other symbols of discrimination.” According to the letter, the EEOC also said Blacks weren’t given equal employment and advancement and that those who complained about their treatment were subject to reprisals.
“I’ve been called colored boy, coon, monkey,” Dontrail Mathis, 33, a painter’s helper, told the Dallas Morning News. “When Obama won, they went off. My superiors said, ‘If he ain’t white, it ain’t right. I saw nooses, swastikas on the wall. It was horrible.”
Turner Industries, an industrial construction and maintenance company based in Baton Rouge, La., issued statements to both employees and clients this week.
In his letter to employees, chairman and CEO Roland Toups said, “As you may be aware, the EEOC has issued a statement that certain employees in our Paris, Texas fabrication plant were harassed or were victims of retaliation. I want you to understand that we strongly disagree with the EEOC’s findings, and we are defending our employment practices at that facility, as well as any job site that may be mentioned.”
“Because of the personal and professional relationships we have forged with you, we are concerned that you might be misguided by any negative inferences or portrayals in the media,” Toups wrote. “We are committed to providing you with as much information as you require that will assist you in sorting through the information being disseminated.”
The NAACP has also been involved in the case. Kenneth Rogers, senior pastor at St. Paul Baptist Church in Paris, Texas and spokesman for the local chapter of the NAACP said greater racial diversity among Turner management would help.
“Turner is a big fish in a small pond,” he told the Wall Street Journal. “We want jobs here in Paris but we want it to be a favorable place to work.”