Employees Allege Racial Hostility in Quaker Oats Suit

In her Chicago Sun-Times column, Mary Mitchell visits with Glenda Brooks, who tells a harrowing story of racial harassment that occurred during her employment at Quaker Oats in Danville, Ill. She and three white male co-workers filed a lawsuit in 2010 alleging "racial hostility."

Several times during the interview, she tried unsuccessfully to stop the tears that punctuated the worst details of the alleged discrimination: being exiled to lift 70 lb. wooden skids every seven minutes, alone, and in an area where temperatures climbed to 107 degrees; being shunned in the cafeteria; finding a hangman's noose in her work area.

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"What really frightened me was the noose. My friends walked me to my car every night, but I didn't know what to expect after that. When I turned 62, I got out of there before something happened because I couldn't go to anybody for help."

Officials at Quaker Oats did not respond to my phone calls for comments.

But in a written statement that was issued by officials in July 2010, and published in a Danville newspaper, officials said they were taking the "lawsuit and its allegations seriously," and "do not tolerate any form of harassment or retaliation."

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And in court documents, Quaker asked that the discrimination lawsuit be dismissed.

The 2010 lawsuit stems from an incident in 2007, when Brooks reported to the company's human resources department that she was called a "stinking n——- b——" by a co-worker.

Read Mary Mitchell's entire column at the Chicago Sun-Times.

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