A federal employment lawsuit filed in California alleges two African American workers faced racial discrimination at work while employed at a North Carolina data center for tech-giant Facebook. According to Fortune magazine, the two workers say the company’s leaders failed to immediately respond to repeated complaints of harassment.
The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, and alleges the company allowed retaliation against the two employees who were reporting racial discrimination. One is a current employee and another still works at the data center.
Specifically, the two say a facility manger repeatedly used racial slurs to refer to black workers. They also assert they were paid less than white colleagues, and that these trespasses took place over the course of three years of employment. They are asking for damages in excess of $25,000, plus punitive damages, for each plaintiff. A spokesperson for the company alleges the claims are without merit. Interestingly, the company does not deny racial discrimination took place. Rather, the assertion is that the company responded appropriately.
In an emailed statement, the spokesperson said the firm investigated the complaints and took swift action to fire the manager in question, as well as to provide extensive training for anti-bias, anti-discrimination and anti-harassment at all data centers to all employees across the country. The company also indicated it provided additional monitoring specifically at the center in North Carolina to ensure this type of illegal behavior doesn’t go unchecked. The company says it plans to mount a “vigorous” defense in the case, and insists the company is an equal opportunity employer.
The complaint, Duffy and Gary v. Facebook Inc., details the environment of Forest City, NC, an area that has been economically depressed following job losses in the once booming textile industry. This Facebook data center facility was constructed in 2012, much to the excitement of those in the area, and plaintiffs were eager to accept positions. However, one of the plaintiffs, working as one of the only African American manager, ended up quitting after having many of his duties stripped from him after speaking out against systemic racism at the firm. He and the other plaintiff describe how one supervisor in particular repeatedly used racial epithets to refer to black employees. They were referred to as “lazy” and “monkeys” and other words not suitable for print. He also allegedly mocked a black worker’s allergy to bananas. There was another instance in which the manager, responding to a request by a black worker for a raise accompanying a promotion with added responsibilities, called the worker a “lazy n_ who wants everything handed to him.” Meanwhile, white workers in the same position and with the same level of experience were paid substantially more. When a raise was finally given, it was disproportionately low as compared to his white counterparts.
Plaintiffs in their racial discrimination lawsuit allege violations of the Civil Rights Act, and name the offending supervisor and a handful of others, as well as Facebook.
The men say that while the company’s human resources division did conduct a number of investigations, their specific complaints were never addressed.
Contact the employment attorneys at Nassiri Law Group, practicing in Orange County, Riverside and Los Angeles. Call 949.375.4734.
Facebook Hit With Lawsuit Over Alleged Racial Discrimination, Nov. 28, 2016, By Jeff John Roberts, Fortune
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