TOLEDO, Ohio — Workers who sued General Motors after nooses and racist graffiti were found at its largest U.S. transmission plant nearly two years ago are still facing racial harassment, their attorney said Thursday.
Just this week, one of the workers found a monkey doll and a racist drawing near his work station, said attorney Michelle Vocht.
The harassment has been ramping up since December — including threatening and racist messages left on restroom and factory walls and near machines where the employees work — after workers began speaking out publicly, she said.
Nine workers sued GM last April, saying the company didn’t do enough to stop racial harassment that stretched over four years and included the discovery of five nooses in the spring of 2017.
The Ohio Civil Rights Commission said last year its investigation found GM seemed indifferent to the racial harassment and that its minimal steps didn’t end the problems. The automaker disputed the findings.
GM said Thursday it is taking the matter seriously and has taken several steps to address harassment at the plant, including mandatory training. It also said it’s continuing to investigate but has not yet identified those responsible.
“Discrimination and harassment are not acceptable and in stark contrast to how we expect people to show up at work. We treat any reported incident with sensitivity and urgency, and are committed to providing an environment that is safe, open and inclusive,” the company said in a statement.
The latest racist messages, Vocht said, show that GM still is falling short when it comes to protecting the workers and needs to increase security.
“They say they’re working on it, but it’s still occurring,” she said. “One would think GM would take stringent, remedial measures to address this problem.”
The racist notes apparently are being left by more than one person, based on the handwriting, and are being found in a few departments, not the entire plant, Vocht said.
In the federal lawsuit filed last year, workers described finding three nooses attached to the plant ceiling in March 2017 and then two more nooses in the following months.
Nazi symbols and “whites only” were written in the plant’s restrooms and white workers would call black employees racist names, the lawsuit said.
It detailed a long list of other instances of racial harassment and discrimination, saying they had created a hostile work environment.