A black deliveryman who was given a noose by a New York City butcher is claiming that the incident had such an impact on him that he is too shaken to go back to work.
Victor Sheppard said that he is no longer comfortable going back to his job with meat distributor Mosner Family Brands because it continues to serve the Ottomanelli & Sons Meat Market after the owner handed Sheppard a disturbing “gift,” the New York Daily News reports.
“I could have lost my life or been badly injured or in jail, and it didn’t mean anything to them,” Sheppard said. “It’s not easy returning to an environment where you mean nothing.”
“Victor could not return to that environment. His employer knew exactly what happened and was supportive, but they never stopped doing business with Ottomanelli,” Sheppard’s lawyer, Wylie Stecklow, said.
Sheppard, Stecklow said, is “unable to sleep through the night and unsure when his life will return to normal.”
Sheppard’s boss, Michael Mosner, told the Daily News that Sheppard could have applied for disability leave and was offered free counseling, but Sheppard did not pursue those options.
Mosner added that Sheppard would have been given a different route that excluded Ottomanelli & Sons, but then he did not show up for work on two different occasions.
“Naturally we were horrified about what happened,” Mosner said of the original incident.
Mosner said that Sheppard’s job was held for as long as possible, but then they had no other recourse.
“We did everything we could to hold his spot. He just didn’t do his part,” the meat distributor said. On June 9 the company sent Sheppard a notice informing him that it was assumed that he’d abandoned his job.
Sheppard’s troubles all started when the owner of Manhattan’s Ottomanelli & Sons, Joe Ottomanelli, fashioned a noose out of yellow rope and gave it to Sheppard, quipping, “If you ever have any stress, just put it around your neck and pull it. I could even help you with it.”
“I started shaking,” Sheppard said at the time, back in April. “He was laughing. I don’t know what kind of joke that is.”
Ottomanelli, 58, is facing hate crime charges. However, Ron Kuby, who is representing the butcher, insists that there was no malice intended with the “joke” and that Sheppard’s complaints are nothing more than an attempt to make money off of the incident.
“There’s no reason for this man to quit his job besides the reason that suing is easier than working,” Kuby said.
Stay classy over there, fellas.
Nonetheless, Sheppard has not yet filed a lawsuit against Ottomanelli & Sons.
“We are at a tipping point and it can get worse,” Sheppard said.
As for Ottomanelli, he is due in criminal court in September.
Read more at the New York Daily News.