Several Black employees at an Ohio General Motors have filed a lawsuit after the motor company refused to respond to several complaints of racism, harassment, and racial bullying.
#MarcusBoyd and Derick Brooks are former supervisors at the Toledo Powertrain, and in a recent CNN interview, the two said their co-workers called them the N-word, told them bathrooms were for “whites only,” and wore Nazi symbols under their coveralls at work. However, when Boyd and other Black employees filed a complaint, they were not supported and instead told to take care of the problem themselves, according to the lawsuit filed by eight Black employees in September.
“Back in the day, you would have been buried with a shovel,” a white colleague reportedly told Boyd. Boyd reported that comment as well, and the white employee admitted to saying the racist remark during a disciplinary hearing. But, no disciplinary actions were taken. “I used to have to pray. Literally, ‘Lord protect me,'” Boyd said. Following the hearing, Boyd was pulled aside and told to forget about that comment if he wanted to get along with the plant workers. In addition, Boyd was threatened by an employee who said he’d hit him with a metal assembly clutch after Boyd denied him the vacation request he wanted. The worker’s pay was taken away for one day.
Brooks said he would often find nooses hanging in his work area, and collected a total of five nooses hanging in several locations in the facility. Eventually, both Brooks and Boyd left the company, leaving behind the six-figure job that supported their family.
Boyd recalled hearing rumors that eight white employees were plotting to “sabotage” and “follow him out.” The Black employees filed complaints with the Ohio Civil Rights Commission. After a nine-month investigation, the commission found GM was allowing a racially hostile work environment. Regardless of the multiple pieces of evidence, GM denied how Boyd and Brooks described the “underlying atmosphere of violent racial hate and bullying” in the GM facility.
In a statement the company wrote, “Every day, everyone at General Motors is expected to uphold a set of values that are integral to the fabric of our culture,” GM said in the statement. “Discrimination and harassment are not acceptable and [are] in stark contrast to how we expect people to show up at work.” It continued: “We treat any reported incident with sensitivity and urgency, and are committed to providing an environment that is safe, open and inclusive. General Motors is taking this matter seriously and addressing it through the appropriate court process.”
The company has declined to comment on Boyd and Brooks’ interview with CNN. GM submitted a statement saying it initiated mandatory meetings and closed the plant for the day to conduct training in every shift.