Three Black people formerly employed at a Kraft Heinz plant in Tulare, Calif., have filed a $30 million lawsuit against the megafood manufacturer, alleging that they were subjected to a racist work environment between 2012 and 2018.
Alex Horn, Lance Aytman, and Keith Hooker claim that staff called them the n-word and drew Swastikas on their lockers. The lawsuit was filed in the Eastern District of California on Thursday by Sanford Heisler Sharp, according to Insider.
Additionally, anonymous notes were allegedly left on the employees’ lockers, including a note that read “Quit or die N———.”
When the ex-employees went to management to report the behavior, they claim they were told to “keep their heads down” and were retaliated against, according to the lawsuit.
A Kraft Heinz rep told Insider that the allegations were “several years old and as soon as we were made aware, we undertook an extensive investigation, including cooperating with law enforcement, to ensure that any behavior that violated our policies, if uncovered, was put to an end.”
Here is more on these allegations, per Insider:
One manager told Horn that Kraft Heinz’s corporate office had instructed management at the dairy plant not to investigate the death threats found in lockers in case it disgruntled other employees, the lawsuit claimed.
As a result of the death threats, Hooker resigned from the company, and Horn and Aytman took medical leaves of absence, the suit says.
The lawsuit said that the plaintiffs were given “less desirable” work tasks. They were passed over for promotions as retaliation after they raised the racist incidents with management, it said.
One of the plaintiffs was “placed on less desirable nightshifts and was forced to operate defunct machines by supervisors with a history of contributing to the anti-Black work environment,” the lawsuit said.
The three former workers are seeking more than $30 million in damage between them.
The Kraft Heinz spokesperson told Insider that there had been no other allegations of racial discrimination or harassment at the Tulare plant since these incidents were reported in 2018.
“Kraft Heinz prides itself on creating diverse and inclusive workplaces, and we have a zero tolerance policy for discrimination or harassment of any kind,” the spokesperson said.
This is not the first time the food manufacturer has been accused of racism. In 2018, two lawsuits were filed against the company over racial and gender discrimination.