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According to a complaint filed against Facebook, a manager called employees "n****r" and "monkey." He also referred to one African-American as a "lazy n****r who wanted everything handed to him," the suit alleges. Robert Baron Duffy and Robert Louis Gary responded by filing racial discrimination claims against the company.
Duffy, a former operations manager at the company's North Carolina facility, and Gary, a night shift manager there, also claim they were paid less than their Caucasian colleagues. They allege the company failed to adequately address their discrimination and retaliation claims after they made internal complaints.
Oh No, He Didn't!
"It's important that these things not happen and it's important that management take it seriously and address them when they do," said Sonya Smallets of San Francisco's Minnis & Smallets, which represents the plaintiffs.
Filed in U.S. District Court in San Jose, their complaint seeks damages under the Civil Rights Act, 42 USC 1981. It alleges that 2% of Facebook's workers are African-American, compared to 12% in the U.S. population. Gary said in the complaint that he complained about discrimination, but it was fruitless.
"I'm in a situation where I feel like I have not been getting the same treatment concerning compensation like the rest of the employees here who are of a different race," he said. "I believe the reason I have been treated this way is because I'm African-American and they never expected for me to say anything."
Oh Yes, He Did!
Facebook apparently acknowledged problems with the manager, Wayne Hawkins, who allegedly called Gary "a lazy n****r." However, the company did not admit liability for his actions.
"As soon as we were made aware of Wayne Hawkins' behavior, we investigated and took quick action to terminate his employment and provided extensive anti-bias, anti-harassment, and anti-discrimination training to all data center employees nationwide," Facebook spokeswoman Bertie Thompson said.
This suit is a reminder that companies need to diligently enforce anti-discrimination and harassment policies. Lawsuits of this kind can cause serious damage to a company's reputation. Taking swift action to deter any form of discrimination is absolutely essential.