Seven Denver warehouse workers were awarded some $15 million after a federal judge found that bosses separated the blacks from other workers because of their race and called them n–gers and “lazy, stupid Africans.”
The judge also found that managers at Matheson Trucking and Matheson Flight Extenders Inc. discriminated against the workers “in all phases of employment, including hiring, termination, conditions of employment, promotion, vacation pay, furlough, discipline, work shifts, benefits and wages,” the Daily Mail notes.
According to the Denver Post, many of the plaintiffs were from the African country of Mali, one was from Brazil and another was a white whistleblower, who was dubbed “the tribe’s assistant” and ultimately lost his job after he complained about the treatment of his co-workers.
“Basically, I did the right thing. This isn’t 1960 anymore,” Dean Patricelli, the white employee, told the Denver Post.
The other plaintiffs in the lawsuit were Ernie Duke, Mahamet Camara, Andre De Oliveira, Bemba Diallo, Salif Diallo and Macire Diarra.
The Denver Post reports that managers at Matheson, a Sacramento, Calif., company that moves large quantities of mail for the U.S. Postal Service and FedEx, forced blacks to work on one side of the warehouse, while whites worked on the other. The lawsuit filed by the workers also claimed that supervisors not only called the black employees racist names but allowed white employees to do the same, and that prime days on which workers could make double pay were given to white workers regardless of seniority.
On one occasion, the Daily Mail notes, “an employee yelled that all black people should be shot.”
According to the employees’ lawsuit, which was filed in 2010, things became unbearable in 2007 when Leslie Capra became the station manager. The lawsuit claimed that Capra was “more openly hostile toward black employees.” As such, working conditions quickly deteriorated.
The verdict, which was handed down Wednesday, “includes $13 million in punitive damages, $318,000 in back pay for workers who were fired for being black and another $650,000 for emotional distress,” according to the Denver Post.
Stacey Campbell, an attorney for Matheson, says the company “prides itself on hiring and employing a highly diverse workforce consisting of men and women of different races and cultures” and plans to appeal the decision, according to the Post.