Black Workers in N.Y. Warehouse Outraged by Noose Hanging

Posted on Dec 08, 2007
Thirteen African-American workers at a Long Island, N.Y. cable television company will file a complaint with the New York State Human Rights Division as well as a federal lawsuit, according to WCBS-TV in New York City. Black workers who found a noose hanging in the warehouse last year contended it symbolized racism and bigotry.

The complaint was detailed by the law firm of Leeds, Morrelli and Brown on Long Island. Black employees say a noose was placed in the work area and left there despite complaints to the mostly white management to take it down. Some former black employees also say they were insulted by “hush money” offers from the company.

Symbolism of Noose Hanging Painful for Black Employees

"Seeing a noose hanging up was totally demoralizing, degrading, horrible," said whistle-blower James Jackson, according to the CBS affiliate in New York.

It has been one year since Jackson spoke up about the humiliating situation in the Farmingdale warehouse of 180 Connect Inc. Jackson’s boss, who is white, was fired, along with a white plant supervisor.

When asked if his manager made a joke of the noose, former employee Shomari Houston said, "Yes. He said, 'Think I should hang James up there, or Russell?' and laughed."

EOE Officials Require Sensitivity Training

The Equal Opportunity Employment Commission required three years of sensitivity training for managers, along with monetary compensation for the black workers subjected to “emotional distress.”

Attorneys for the black employees shunned the financial compensation, saying the embarrassment remains. "These clients will not be silenced," attorney James Vagnini said. "They will not be bought off. The company has made illusions… if we offer them a couple thousand dollars they'll go away and shut up."

180 Connect officials say it wasn’t management but an ignorant former employee trying to send a message to workers, that. if you steal equipment, you will be hanged.

Cablevision, which was named in the lawsuit, said, "The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission investigated this matter and dismissed all claims against Cablevision. This is a dispute between the plaintiffs and 180 Connect involving activities alleged to have occurred at 180 Connect's workplace.”

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