As far as race bias claims go, these two are particularly outrageous — and the companies where the harassed employees worked will now pay for failing to take appropriate action.
Toy monkey stayed at her cube — for 3 weeks
The first case involved Crystal Perry, a black woman who worked for the Michigan Department of Human Services (DHS).
Not long after Perry spoke with her supervisor about why she hadn’t been promoted in the six years she had been at DHS, a five-foot-long stuffed monkey appeared on top of her cubicle.
Perry complained to her supervisor, saying that she perceived the monkey as a racial attack, but her manager refused to remove it. The ape stayed on top of her cube for three weeks.
Perry then filed suit, claiming race discrimination. A judge ruled that DHS’ decision not to promote Perry wasn’t discriminatory. But Judge Rosemarie Aquilina did have some choice words regarding the company’s lack of response to the stuffed monkey incident:
“(It) is despicable. It is not worthy of any state department. It is a continued, hostile work environment. It is upsetting. It is beneath any American.”
Aquilina fined DHS $21,000 — $1,000 for each day the toy monkey remained on top of Perry’s cubicle. The company will also have to pay Perry’s legal fees.
‘Do you want to hang from the family tree?’
The second case involved two African-American truck drivers who worked for a Concord, NC-based trucking company.
The men filed suit against the company, claiming they’d been harassed because of their race. Among their complaints, the men said they’d:
- been subjected to derogatory comments and slurs such as “n—-r,” “monkey” and “boy” by white colleagues, including their manager, mechanics and other truck drivers
- were told on one occasion by a co-worker with a noose that, “This is for you. Do you want to hang from the family tree?”
- asked if one of the black men wanted to be the “coon” in their “coon hunt,” and
- told one of the men that he was company’s “token black” employee.
The men complained to the company’s dispatcher, general manager and an owner, but the harassment continued.
So the men went to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which sued on their behalf. A jury of eight in Winston-Salem unanimously voted in favor of the two workers, finding that they’d been discriminated against based on their race. The men were awarded compensatory and punitive damages of $200,000.