Black workers at UPS hub say they were targets of racism

TOLEDO, Ohio — UPS workers at a distribution hub in Ohio sued the company Wednesday, alleging discriminatory hiring decisions and a series of racist acts, including a noose and Confederate flags in the workplace.

White employees in 2016 directed racist language at black workers, displayed a stuffed monkey wearing a UPS uniform, and put up the noose and flags, according to a lawsuit filed Wednesday by 19 workers against UPS and five managers.

The lawsuit alleges management at the UPS distribution hub in Maumee "enabled, tolerated, and purposefully promoted and encouraged" a culture of racism at the site that led to racist acts and discriminatory employment decisions.

The lawsuit also says there has been a pattern of discrimination for more than a decade at the facility in suburban Toledo.

UPS said in a statement Thursday that the company responded quickly and fired two employees after the 2016 complaints, and since that time has taken remedial steps in cooperation with the Ohio Civil Rights Commission, including additional training and monitoring.

An attorney for the workers told The Blade in Toledo that black employees have been passed over for promotions in favor of white employees with less training and seniority.

"Uniformly they were treated as second-class employees with less opportunity, less earning opportunities, and forced to be always wondering if they would still have jobs if they had tried to do anything about it," said attorney Fred Gittes.

UPS said it would not comment further on the lawsuit, "as we are reviewing the claims relative to the original facts revealed in 2016."

The lawsuit seeks to halt the alleged discrimination, along with damages of more than $25,000.

In a similar lawsuit, workers at General Motors filed a lawsuit last April after they said nooses and racist graffiti were found at a transmission plant in Toledo two years ago. GM has said it has taken several steps to address harassment there.

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