230 current and former employees at Turner Industries Group, have filed a civil rights lawsuit against the Louisiana-based oil services company, claiming that they were forced to work in facilities where slurs, discrimination, and racist graffiti were passed off without concern.
The company, which is headquartered in Baton Rouge, denied any wrongdoing in the case.
Black employees said that they have been complaining to company officials for more than a decade about racist symbols in their workplace, including hung nooses, segregated bathrooms, racial slurs, and unequal treatment in Louisiana and Texas. Company supervisors, according to the workers, ignored the complaints or in some cases, retaliated against the workers for complaining.
Yvonne Turner, who worked for the company in both states, told the Associated Press, that she arrived to work one day to find a protective suit stuffed, tagged with her name, and hung from a noose.
“I’m fed up. I’m tired,” she said after a news conference held with local civil rights leaders. “We’re not here trying to get money. We’re not here trying to cause trouble. We’re here for justice.”
However, the company refuses to to turn the other cheek. In a statement, Turner claimed that some of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit no longer are employees for the company or never worked there. Additionally, they blamed “lengthy campaign by plaintiffs’ attorneys in New York and Texas” for the lawsuit, which had few participants that actually filed complaints against the company in the past.
“Make no mistake, Turner Industries stands for diversity and inclusion for all. Our record supports that. We intend to defend our company and the jobs of our 15,000 employees who are employed in various divisions of the company,” Roland Toups, Turner Industries’ chairman and CEO, said in a statement.
Reports from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in April 2010 showed that black workers at the Turner Industries plant in Paris, Texas, were indeed jeered with racial slurs, intimidation tactics, and symbols of discrimination. Black workers were also given lower-paying jobs at the sites and denied promotions or salary increases. The EEOC stated that Turner company officials were fully aware of the inhospitable working environment but refused to make changes or address the EEOC findings.
The Turner company has issued a statement denying the EEOC findings. Toups claims that the company has asked employees to make sure its facilities comply with anti-harassment policies.
“If there is a problem, we want to know about it so that it can be addressed,” he said.
The lawsuit further describes how black workers were mandated to perform dangerous tasks that white workers refused to do and were passed over for better jobs by whites. The lawsuit, which was filed this week in the Eastern District federal court in Texas, claims that discrimination worsened after the election of President Obama.