People in Indiana, and across the nation, expect that they will be relatively safe from persecution or discrimination at their job. Though most businesses enforce serious consequences to anyone who breaks anti-discrimination and harassment rules, often times, managers and supervisors are largely unaware of their employee's behavior towards their coworkers. But what if your manager is aware of it? What if they do nothing to stop it?
Constant threats and racial slurs against an Iowa woman in October of this year not only led to a lawsuit against her employer but shows what can happen if an employee feels that management is not taking their complaints seriously.
It started when the 48-year-old worker noticed racial slurs painted on her work locker. What started as anonymous harassment quickly escalated when co-workers began yelling and taunting her. She claims that the well-known agriculture equipment manufacturer knew about the inappropriate behavior but did nothing to stop it.
The woman, who happens to be black, noticed that it wasn't just her that was experiencing discrimination but other black co-workers as. She claims that they too filed complaints but were not receiving results from management.
But the discrimination didn't stop at work, she says. In July of 2011 she says that she came home from a night shift at the plant to find a doll hanging on her garage door with "racially motivated threats indicating she should leave her job." Labeled as a hate crime by police, the woman decided that she had had enough. She filed a lawsuit against Deere and Co. three months later, after receiving approval from the district court, for discrimination in the workplace.
A spokesman from Deere insists that the company strives to provide a work environment that is free from unlawful discrimination and harassment, which seems to be a stark contradiction to the woman's claims in her lawsuit. The spokesman adds that the company investigates employee complaints and takes action if needed. It is unclear at this time if the company intends on launching its own investigation into the matter in the wake of the lawsuit.
Source: CBS News, "Iowa woman sues Deere alleging race discrimination," The Associated Press, Oct. 31, 2012