BEAUMONT, Texas (June 13, 2012)—A production worker at Goodyear's Beaumont plant has filed a racial discrimination suit against the tire maker and the staffing firm that hired him to work in Beaumont.
Kenan Alexander was assigned by Qualitech Maintenance Inc. to work at the Beaumont plant beginning Feb. 18, 2002. Alexander continues to work at Beaumont under contract by Qualitech, according to the complaint filed June 7 with the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas.
On May 31, 2011, Alexander opened his locker at work to find a figurine of a black man eating a watermelon, with a noose tied around its neck, hanging from a hook.
According to the complaint, this was only the latest of many brazen racial slurs and threats Alexander and other black employees endured during Alexander's tenure at the Beaumont plant.
Nevertheless, after reporting the incident to supervisors and the plant's human resources manager, Alexander was too upset to continue working and went home. A doctor subsequently took Alexander off work and gave him medication to cope with the anxiety, depression, insomnia and other ill effects he suffered, the complaint said.
Alexander did not return to work until August 2011. He had wanted to return Aug. 12 on his old shift, but Goodyear did not allow him to return until Aug. 16 on a new shift, causing him to lose pay, the complaint said.
According to the complaint, Alexander also applied in February 2011 for permanent employment at Goodyear, but a supervisor told him in March that he was not hired “because of his looks.”
Goodyear and Qualitech are liable for allowing a hostile, racist work environment at Beaumont, the complaint alleges. Alexander also claims Goodyear and Qualitech retaliated against him unlawfully under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. “But for Plaintiff's complaint of discrimination, Defendants would not have denied Plaintiff timely reinstatement upon the completion of his medical leave,” the complaint said.
Alexander seeks a trial by jury, monetary damages in an indeterminate amount, attorneys' fees and a permanent injunction against Goodyear and Qualitech.
Goodyear officials could not be reached for comment.