Workers sue Daimler for $9.5M, alleging racial threats

PORTLAND, Ore. - Two current and two former employees have sued Daimler Trucks North America, alleging they were discriminated against because they are African American.

The lawsuit filed Tuesday in Multnomah County comes just weeks after the company agreed to pay $2.4 million to settle bias complaints filed by six minority workers who said they were subjected to threats and racial slurs at the company's Portland plant.

Four workers who couldn't reach a settlement are named as plaintiffs in the new suit, filed by attorney Mark Morell Feb. 24.

The plaintiffs range in age from 35 to 64. One employee, 64-year-old Joseph Hall, had been working at Daimler for 10 years when he alleges that half a dozen white co-workers began threatening violence, using racially charged language, writing graffiti showing "hangman's nooses" at work, and putting chicken bones in his co-worker's locker.

In one instance, Hall said a co-worker jumped onto him, knocked him down and injured his back and neck. Hall also said a co-worker smeared feces on restroom walls and he was forced to clean the area.

Hall reported the incidents to a supervisor. He said he was later told that if he didn't retire early, he would lose his health insurance benefits.

Three other Daimler workers allege similar experiences.

The experiences are also akin to those described in the previous civil rights complaints, filed by by Oregon labor commissioner Brad Avakian on behalf of the six workers involved in the $2.4 million settlement. At that point, it was the largest settlement in the history of the state Bureau of Labor and Industries.

Following that settlement, Daimler said the company was pleased to resolve the matter. "Daimler Trucks North America is committed to diversity and inclusion," said Brian Burton, general counsel for Daimler.

The four plaintiffs named in the Feb. 24 civil rights complaint are suing Daimler for more than $9.5 million.

A spokesman for Daimler Trucks North America says it is company policy to not discuss pending litigation. As part of last month's settlement, it agreed to boost training, install a civil rights complaint hotline and take other steps to improve the workplace.


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