Going to work should be an experience that allows an employee to feel safe and free from a hostile work environment, but that’s not always the case. A black man, who was working for Lufkin Industries in Texas, claims that he was the victim of racial harassment and accuses the company of firing him without just cause. The plaintiff was working as a welder when he accused his white co-worker, who was also a supervisor, of using derogatory racial slurs.
As time went by, the comments apparently worsened and, in an attempt to make the harassment cease, the plaintiff approached his co-worker and asked him to stop. He also reported the incident to their mutual manager. According to the complaint, the man was called to the manager’s office where he was told that he was being childish and that his role as a manager did not include baby-sitting.
After speaking to his manager, he then spoke to the company’s upper management about the issue. He claims that the response from human resources was that there would be an investigation, but that he would lose his job if the claims were unfounded. Several employees agreed that the harassment was true, while others allegedly continued to downplay the situation. As time went by, the plaintiff claims that he was denied opportunities for advancement as a form of retaliation for his harassment complaint.
Due to the stress of the continued harassment, the man claims he was forced to take time away from work and, after returning from a leave, was told by a payroll clerk that he had improperly filled out a time card and had forgotten a day that he had worked. Although he did not remember working that day, he filled the form out according to the clerk’s direction, which lead to his being fired for falsifying time records. He claims the real reason for his firing was racial discrimination.
It is illegal for a Texas employer to fire a worker because of race. It is also illegal to retaliate against an employee for reporting a hostile work environment. Those who find themselves in similar situations may choose to file legal actions to pursue monetary compensation based upon the individual circumstances of their cases.
Source: The Southeast Texas Record, “Welder says termination due to racial slurs against him“, Kelly Holleran, Oct. 27, 2014