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Thursday, December 31, 2009

Whirlpool Must Pay Black Woman $1 Million

Date: Thursday, December 31, 2009, 6:22 am
By: F. Finley McRae

Whirlpool Corporation, the leading producer of major household appliances, must pay over $1 million to a black woman who was harassed for months, then brutally attacked by a white male co-worker at its Tennessee plant, a federal court judge has ruled.

In his 30-page ruling, Senior Judge John T. Nixon said his decision was based on Carlotta Freeman's "emotional and psychological injuries caused by Whirlpool's ineffective response to her repeated complaints of racial and sexual harassment." The judge presides over the Nashville Division of the United States District Court for Middle Tennessee.

Freeman,"once a cheerful, upbeat woman, became increasingly withdrawn" as a direct result of her attack, according to several medical experts who testified during the bench trial. The attack also left her with chronic, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Now, the judge found, "she can no longer participate in normal activities, including grocery shopping or attending church because she has panic attacks." Since 2004, "she's been in mental health treatment, yet her physicians believe Freeman, 51, will not be able to work again," Nixon's ruling states.

Freeman's ordeal began in January 2004, when she was taunted with "sexually explicit and racially charged statements" from Willie Baker, the white co-worker. Included in them were words in a song he sang to her every day: "I want to f--- you when I wake up every morning and I sing this song about you," Nixon said.

Freeman, an assembly line worker at Whirlpool's LaVergne plant (which was closed last year), told Baker to "leave me alone." Undeterred, Baker continued his barrage and even followed Freeman to the employee break area, where he spewed a steady stream of graphic, lurid desires.

Although Freeman repeatedly complained to her director supervisor, Charlie Fisher, who is white, about Baker's comments and behavior, he did nothing to stop them, according to the ruling. Nor did Fisher "investigate Freeman's allegations, discuss them with Baker or confront him in any way," Nixon wrote.

On March 22, Nixon noted, "Baker used racial slurs while on the line, directing comments such as "I'm tired of you n------s" and "I'm killing you black motherf--kers" at Freeman and her black co-worker, Lillian Lillard. Freeman told Kim Wheeler, a white worker, she felt threatened. Wheeler, in turn, reported Baker's comments to Fisher.

He called Baker, Freeman and Lillard into his office separately; Manufacturing Supervisor Jimmy Lovelace and union steward Richard Eskildsen were also present at each meeting. Fisher told Freeman and Baker to ignore each other and reprimanded Lillard for using her cell phone on the line.

Despite Fisher's warning, Baker approached Freeman again, began speaking and became angry when she told him Fisher forbade any conversation between them. Freeman walked away from Baker, returned to Fisher and reported that Baker has violated his order.

This time, however, Fisher did not offer a promise to "do something." Instead, he advised Freeman to "just go ahead and f--k him and get it over with. Then maybe he would leave you alone."

Ironically, four days later, on March 26, Baker told Fisher he "felt harassed" by his co-workers (but apparently did not name them), and said he was "afraid that someone would get hurt and that he, Baker, would lose his job." Fisher "assured Baker that he would take care of the situation. However, he did nothing to address Baker's concerns," Nixon observed in his ruling.

Later that day, Baker, in a conversation with Fred Contreras, the Director of Human Resources, claimed he "felt threatened by Freeman and that he had already reported this to Fisher." Contreras subsequently said he didn't believe Baker, but nonetheless called Curt Gamauf, the Human Resources Manager, to appraise him of Baker's .....

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Obama Administration's Immigration Department - A Bastion of Discrimination Against African American Managers?

By Dr. Steven B. DavidSon, TX -The nation has selected its first African American president. However, the president has inherited a bastion of discrimination in the Federal Government according Dr. Steven B. DavidSon. DavidSon, who has worked in the Immigration Department since 1998 with a federal career for 35 years, has filed a class complaint against the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) alleging that African-Americans have been subject to individual and systemic discrimination for management positions.

According to DavidSon, Immigration and Naturalization operations have an extensive history, but without a record of African-American managers in regional offices. Nationwide, the regional offices have approximately 200 employees with about forty managers. According to DavidSon the USCIS organization, which was transitioned into the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), was the legacy Immigration and Naturalization Service's (INS) Adjudication operation responsible for immigrant benefits. Apparently, regions were reconstituted with the new organization, but with the same results, no African-American managers.

DavidSon's complaint cites the Regional office in Dallas, Texas where he is employed. He identifies the office as an example where highly qualified African-American candidates have been passed by less qualified white candidates. "We are not talking about disgruntled complainers, low-performers, uneducated, and inexperienced candidates here." DavidSon's complaint alleges USCIS managers have continued the discriminatory practices of the old INS organization. The complaint cites USCIS' Management Directive 715 reported to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission where it discloses that minorities are underrepresented in high grade positions, and official and management positions. It also discloses that African Americans are terminated disproportionately. The complaint further cites several other personnel practices adversely affecting African Americans. Davidson continued, "Considering that African Americans in grades 14 and 15 are not nearly as underrepresented in the Department of Homeland Security as-a-whole, their under-representation in USCIS regional offices is revealing." Asked about any personal fears, DavidSon is resolute. "Retaliation in any of its forms is a major concern, but we must stay the course."

DavidSon managed one of the nation's largest federal, field-level Civil Rights, EEO (Equal Employment Opportunity) programs in the early 1980s at the Naval Air Rework Facility in Alameda, California. There he witnessed first-hand a precedent setting class complaint, Moses Saunders vs. Department of Navy.

"I never thought I'd ever witness anything so deplorable again. It is the most unfortunate organizational malady any segment of a workforce can experience. And a complaint of this nature is the kind of organizational virus that can spread like a Santa Anta wild fire." According to DavidSon, immigration offices are practically in every urban area in the United States, but the representation of African-American managers is so poor, the complaint could be amended to cover the whole department. DavidSon cites EEO reports, which disclose that civil rights complaints cost the federal government millions-a-year where managers are not transparent, manipulate the promotional system, and resort to vague or highly subjective decision criteria to mask discriminatory bias.

Concerning the status of the complaint DavidSon continues, "The complaint is before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission for certification consideration, and the Office of Civil Rights and Inclusion at the Department of Homeland Security. Ironically, the Office of Civil Rights is typically where attorneys will defend the agency's practices as opposed to using the experience as a serious opportunity to institute lasting improvements. According to Washington DC area Attorneys Michael Snider, and Morris Fischer the chances of the agency deciding in favor of complainants is 'next to nil.'"

"Our desire is to see organizational improvements, and to make-whole injured parties. Nevertheless, the fact that something like this could exist in the federal government or anywhere should be appalling to conscientious national leaders, and particularly the White House."

Deborah Green
401 E. Corporate Suite 100
Lewisville, Texas 75057

Thursday, December 3, 2009

AARD Protests Discrimination at Bloomingdales

Washington, DC - Americans Against Racism and Discrimination (AARD), held a protest at Bloomingdale's on Black Friday in response to current and former employee's complaints of harassment and discrimination by the retailer. The employees, all African-American, say they experienced hostile and extremely humiliating acts of harassment and discrimination at Bloomingdale's by its management that included; verbal harassment/badgering, job discrimination, threats and race and gender discrimination.

Several employees say they reached out for help and complained to company CEO Michael Gould, but the company retaliated with more harassment, including forcing some of them out of their jobs after they complained.

The AFL-CIO Local 400 union was notified in an effort to curtail the harassment and investigate. Following an investigation, the union filed a grievance against the company and recommended that Bloomingdale's manager, Julia Palmer, issue a formal apology for her behavior in harassing several African-Americans in July 2009, but Bloomingdale's and Ms. Palmer refused.

"'Placism' is what it's called today...'Placism' is the new racism," says a former employee and top-performer at Bloomingdale's Chevy Chase, who spoke on condition of anonymity. "If you're Black, Bloomingdale's means for you to stay in your place," says the employee, who even recently made a trip to Bloomingdale's corporate offices in New York to complain, only to be informed by VP William Hearst that the company has no intentions of changing.

Another former employee and top-performer, who spoke on condition of anonymity, says that when he asked VP William Hearst why the company refused to hire any Black men as general managers at any of its stores or in senior level management, Hearst made a special trip to Washington where he stripped him of his title as Giorgio Armani specialist and told him to quit, or be fired.

"Bloomingdale's is a racist company that harasses and discriminates against African-Americans, especially Black men," says the employee. He went on to say that Bloomingdale's is "...a revolving door of racial harassment and discrimination against Blacks, and is a place where Black excellence, especially among men, is loathed."

Leanna Nicks