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Employees sue over alleged racism at GM plant

General Motors is a very familiar brand in California and nationwide. The company employs thousands in many locations, but a specific plant in the Midwest appears to be a hotbed of racism. Three lawsuits targeted the same plant where African American workers claimed that the workplace tolerated racial slurs, verbal attacks, racist graffiti, and the display of nooses.

Leadership at GM responded to the lawsuits filed against the company in 2018 by stating that the incidents of harassment and mistreatment were isolated. An attorney representing eight workers said that the automaker did not respond appropriately to the allegations. The racially-charged atmosphere persisted at the plant, she said.

When the first official complaint reached the company in 2017, the company notified employees that racially offensive behavior, including language, cartoons, jokes and images, would not be tolerated. Although GM investigated the allegations, the employees claiming discrimination insisted in their court filings that the racially abusive behavior continued. Managers tended to ignore complaints, and some people were fired for raising concerns. A past president of the UAW local connected with the plant said that racist attitudes had always held sway there and that discrimination had become more overt in recent years.

Harassment in the workplace could limit a person's career opportunities and inflict psychological stress. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 generally prohibits race discrimination in the workplace, and people who have been the victim of this type of behavior might want to meet with an employment law attorney in order to learn what recourse they might have.

Source: Fortune, "Racism at GM--From Insults to Nooses--Spurs Warnings and Firings", Bloomberg, Jan. 23, 2019

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