The Richmond Register

June 15, 2013

Second plaintiff added to racial discrimination suit against local plant

By Sarah Hogsed
Register News Writer

MADISON COUNTY — A woman alleging she was the target of racial discrimination while working at GR Spring and Stamping has been added as the second plaintiff in a lawsuit against the company.

In an amended complaint filed April 22, Johnetta Williams states that while employed through a temp agency at the Berea Road plant from October to November 2011 she faced numerous incidents of racism.

She states that she was required to perform tasks not required of white employees, and if white workers refused to perform a distasteful or difficult task, it was assigned to her.

Williams also alleges that when she walked through another department to reach the restroom, other works yelled “n-----” at her in plain sight and hearing of supervisors.

Finally, the alleged harassment culminated in vandalism to her vehicle Nov. 3, 2011. The word “n-----” was written on her vehicle’s windshield, according to the complaint.

“Fearing for her safety, Ms. Williams was unable to return to work,” the complaint states.

The original lawsuit, filed March 27, was brought by Qareeb Hayden. Also employed through a temp agency. Hayden alleges a similar pattern of racist behavior and discrimination while he was working at GR Spring and Stamping from February to September 2012.

In addition to being told by a supervisor “Blacks don’t last long here,” Hayden states that his supervisor refused to perform his 90-day review and left him on probationary status longer than other employees despite an “excellent work record.”

In addition, Hayden alleges that at least two supervisors and several co-workers subjected him to verbal harassment, calling him a “n-----” and called his work “n----- rigging.” He also was called a “colored boy.”

He took his complaints to a human resources officer, but no action was taken, the lawsuit alleges.

Finally, Hayden asserts in his complaint that a Confederate flag was hung above the business time clock.

Hayden was discharged from his job in September 2012, the suit states.

Hayden is asking Madison Circuit Court to award him reinstatement of his job, general and compensatory damages for lost and future wages and emotional distress, punitive damages and attorney costs and fees.

Attorneys representing GR Spring and Stamping entered a notice of removal from Madison Circuit Court on April 22 because with the addition of a second plaintiff, it appears the damages being sought exceed $75,000, the document states. If accepted, the suit could move to federal court.

GR Spring and Stamping manufactures custom metal stampings, value-added assemblies and slide-formed products for the automotive, medical, electronics and office furniture industries, according to its website. GR Spring and Stamping Inc. was founded in 1960 in Walker, Mich, and opened its Richmond facility in 2004.

The company reported to the Kentucky Business & Industry Information System this year that it employs 237 people, making it the seventh-largest manufacturing employer in Madison County.

UPDATE: The claims of the second plaintiff, Johnetta Williams, were dismissed by a federal judge May 30 based on the fact she did not list the employment discrimination claim as an asset in her sworn July 2012 bankruptcy filings. Read more at http://richmondregister.com/localnews/x493353798/Federal-court-dismisses-second-plaintiff-in-discrimination-suit