Fourteen black employees of 180 Connect, a Farmingdale cable television contractor, have filed a lawsuit over a 2006 incident in which a supervisor hung a 15-foot noose in a warehouse. Although the EEOC investigated and eventually dismissed charges brought against the company, the suit alleges the noose was part of a campaign of harassment against black workers.
The supervisor reportedly told black workers the noose was meant to keep them from going past a gate. When a worker asked what the noose meant, the supervisor allegedly said, “Why? Does it bother you?” Managers joked about hanging black technicians from the noose, the workers say.
Despite complaints, nothing was done about the noose for almost a week, the lawsuit alleges. One worker who complained about the noose says he then was scheduled for 80-hour workweeks in retaliation, leading him to resign.
When the workers filed an EEOC complaint, 180 Connect fired the supervisor and another manager, implemented a sensitivity training program and offered a monetary settlement to the workers. When the employees turned down the offer, the company countered by proposing a donation to the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, to be earmarked for anti-discrimination projects.
The employees’ lawsuit seeks unspecified damages.