Schaefer Halleen, LLC
400 South Fourth Street, Suite 202
Minneapolis, MN 55415
Supervisor Threatened Black Workers With Noose and Burning Cross
MINNEAPOLIS, Nov. 30, 2016 — William Staple and Dion Pye have sued their former employer, JL Schwieters Construction, Inc., for race discrimination and harassment. Staple and Pye brought suit against JL Schwieters today, intervening on the November 3, 2016 lawsuit against the company filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. See Intervenor Complaint and EEOC Complaint links above.
Staple and Pye’s Intervenor Complaint alleges that they were subjected to outrageous acts of racial hostility by their supervisor, taunted with violence, and barraged with racially insensitive jokes and stereotypes on a regular basis. The Complaint explains how their supervisor consistently called them “niggers,” how he threatened that he could “shoot a nigger from a mile away,” how he made a noose out of electrical wire and threatened to hang them, and how he made a cross out of wood and threatened to burn it in their yards. Staple and Pye allege that this harassment was witnessed by coworkers and other supervisors but was tolerated, ignored, and even encouraged at JL Schwieters. When the company failed to address the racially hostile work environment, Staple and Pye were forced to resign.
Earlier this year, after its investigation, the EEOC found “reasonable cause” to believe that JL Schwieters discriminated against Staple and Pye and subjected them to racial harassment. See EEOC Determinations for Staple and Pye links above.
“Racism has no place in the American workplace. We’ve come too far to tolerate this type of hate at work,” said Peter Christian, Staple’s and Pye’s attorney. “While this type of racist harassment is truly shocking to hear about for many of us, I believe it is representative of a larger problem in this industry. We intend to hold JL Schwieters accountable for the racism on its jobsites and to demonstrate that it could have and should have put a stop to it a long time ago,” added Mr. Christian.
Staple made clear that, “Standing up for myself here is about more than me. My hope is that some good will come from this in the form of change at JL Schwieters and in this industry.” Pye added that, “I want to make sure that what happened to us doesn’t happen to someone else. It’s just not right in this day and age – or any day and age for that matter – that someone should be scared to come to work because they are black.”