A black General Electric employee has sued the multinational conglomerate for $50 million, alleging she was the victim of race and sex discrimination. The plaintiff, Yvonne, had worked for GE Electric in Schenectady for almost 20 years. She claims that during that time, she had to endure a consistently hostile work environment dominated by white men, an experience she likened to a “plantation.”
Yvonne’s lawsuit claims the work environment became even more toxic in 2008 when Barack Obama was first seeking the presidency. Her legal filings contend that co-workers regularly circulated white supremacist literature. (She claims that briefly stopped after the 2008 election when the Secret Service came through ahead of a plant visit by President Obama.)
Yvonne’s complaint details co-worker taunts over her weight, supervisors telling sexist and racist jokes at morning meetings, frequent use of racial epithets and nooses hanging in the workplace. She claims she was marginalized, had her overtime hours cut and was ultimately terminated because of her complaints about the bigoted behavior.
Since 2008, she says, at least three employees have left the company because of racially harassing behavior.
Note: Under the law, failing to promptly investigate harassing behavior is tantamount to approving it. At the very least, tolerating potential harassment can lead to expensive litigation. At worst, it can cost huge sums in damage awards.