The EEOC said that Exxon Mobil did not do enough to investigate claims of racism, which included the display of five nooses, at its Baton Rouge, La. facility.
In a lawsuit, the United States government said that Exxon Mobil violated federal law by not taking enough action when five nooses were displayed at the company’s facility in Baton Rouge, La.
The Associated Press reported that, “According to the government, in January 2020, a Black employee found a hangman’s noose at his worksite at the Baton Rouge complex run by Exxon Mobil Corp. and reported it. At the time, the company knew of three other nooses that had been found at the complex, but it failed to investigate all the complaints and take action to prevent such harassment, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission [EEOC] said in its lawsuit filed Thursday.
“Then, in December 2020, a fifth noose was found at the complex, which includes a chemical and nearby refinery. Exxon Mobil’s lack of action created a racially hostile work environment, the EEOC said.”
However, Exxon Mobil’s spokesperson Todd Spitler disagreed with the government’s allegations saying the company “encourage(s) employees to report claims like this, and we thoroughly investigated.”
Spitler added, “The symbols of hate are unacceptable, offensive, and in violation of our corporate policies. We have a zero-tolerance policy of any form of harassment or discrimination in the workplace by or towards employees, contractors, suppliers or customers.”
The EEOC claims that Exxon Mobil “investigated some, but not all, of the prior incidents and failed to take measures reasonably calculated to end the harassment.”
The alleged negligence caused a “a racially hostile work environment.”
The governmental agency claims that Exxon Mobil’s failure to act reasonably to the nooses was a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
In a statement, Elizabeth Owen, a senior trial attorney at the New Orleans EEOC office, said, “A noose is a longstanding symbol of violence associated with the lynching of African Americans. Such symbols are inherently threatening and significantly alter the workplace environment for Black Americans.”
Michael Kirkland, director of the New Orleans EEOC office, said, “Even isolated displays of racially threatening symbols are unacceptable in American workplaces.”
NPR reported that several nooses have been discovered at various places in the past several years.
A noose was discovered at the site of the planned Obama Presidential Center in November.
In May 2022, a noose was found on the campus of Stanford University in California.
Amazon stopped construction on a warehouse when a noose was found at the construction site in Connecticut in May 2021.
Additionally, a noose was discovered at a public park in Oakland, Calif. in June 2020.
And in 2017, the FBI opened an investigation when bananas in nooses were discovered at American University in Washington, D.C. on the first full day after Taylor Dumpson became the school’s first African-American student body president, according to The New York Times.
Another major corporation, Tesla, has faced several claims of racism over the past few years too.
According to Todd A. Smith of RegalMag.com, “The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH)…filed a lawsuit against Tesla, alleging a persistent pattern of ongoing racism at its plant in Fremont, Calif…
“The new lawsuit [came] months after a judge ordered Tesla to pay approximately $137 million to an elevator operator at the Fremont, Calif. plant who said the company ignored his complaints about racial abuse.
“The elevator operator, Owen Diaz, worked at the Tesla plant for approximately a year between 2015 and 2016, and claimed that colleagues repeatedly referred to him as a racial slur.”
Smith continued, “In a statement, agency director Kevin Kish said, ‘After receiving hundreds of complaints from workers, DFEH found evidence that Tesla’s Fremont factory is a racially segregated workplace where Black workers were subjected to racial slurs and discriminated against in job assignments, discipline, pay and promotion, creating a hostile work environment.’
“After reviewing the complaints, The East Bay Times reported, ‘As early as 2012, Black and/or African American Tesla workers have complained that Tesla production leads, supervisors, and managers constantly use the n-word and other racial slurs to refer to Black workers.’
“The report about Tesla and its alleged hostile workplace said, ‘They have complained that swastikas, KKK, the n-word, and other racist writing are etched onto walls of restrooms, restroom stalls, lunch tables, and even factory machinery.”
At the time of the Tesla lawsuit, the Regional NAACP President Rick Callender said, “The Department of Fair Employment and Housing should be applauded for seeking justice against Tesla for their racist behavior.”
The recent incidents of alleged racism in the workplace and on campuses across the country underscore a rise in White supremacy over recent years.
The Department of Homeland Security blamed, in part, the rise of White supremacy to racist content online, specifically on social media.
Racist propaganda online cannot only lead to racist rhetoric in the workplace and classroom.
It can also incite people to commit acts of violence.
Michael German, an FBI agent who infiltrated White supremacist groups, said, “It seems intuitive that effective social media monitoring might provide clues to help law enforcement prevent attacks. After all, the White supremacist attackers in Buffalo, Pittsburgh and El Paso all gained access to materials online and expressed their hateful, violent intentions on social media.”