Eight current and former UPS employees in Kentucky have filed a discrimination lawsuit against the shipping giant claiming they have faced racial discrimination, poor treatment and retaliation. The men also alleged that an effigy of a black UPS employee hung from the ceiling outside the manager’s office for four days.
The suit was filed in Fayette County Circuit Court in Lexington and includes three managers and the company as the defendants.
The men say they were punished more severely than white employees for “alleged workplace infractions.” Two of the employees were fired; two others resigned, which the lawsuit says constitutes “constructive discharge.”
The men are seeking unspecified damages from Atlanta-based UPS, which has a freight service center in central Kentucky.
Luke Morgan, the attorney for the men, said his clients tried to work out the issues with UPS, but the company “has given them the runaround.”
“You can’t make any sense of this,” Morgan said.
Susan Rosenberg, a spokeswoman for UPS, said the company disagrees with the allegations in the lawsuit and that all complaints were investigated.
“We took it seriously,” Rosenberg said.
The employees, William Barber, Jeffrey D. Goree, John J. Hughes, David W. Young, Curtis A. Weathers, Lamont Brown, Glenn D. Jackson and Donald L. Ragland, said they “endured severe and pervasive comments, intimidation, ridicule and insults while working at UPS.”
Morgan said racially-based issues first popped up in the summer of 2008, when Barack Obama began his general election campaign for the presidency and resurfaced during his re-election campaign four years later. The lawsuit says that on Aug. 9, 2012, one of the managers made a dummy in a UPS uniform with a dark brown toboggan as a head and it hung from the ceiling until Aug. 13, 2012.
The dummy’s hands and one foot were tied to a ladder to demonstrate the “three points of contact” that employees should have when using a ladder. Twine was tied around the dummy’s neck and to the ceiling to “prevent the dummy from falling forward,” the lawsuit says UPS claimed.
In response to the dummy hanging, Rosenberg said it was for training purposes, even after someone wrote on the dummy “no hangings please”.
Other incidents noted in the lawsuit included black people being referenced as ‘jungle bunnies’ and remarks from other employees comparing black people to monkeys.