By Sarah Hogsed
Register News Writer
A former employee of GR Spring & Stamping is suing the company and alleging that as the only black worker at the plant, he was subjected to racial discrimination that higher ups did nothing to stop.
Qareeb Hayden filed the lawsuit March 27 in Madison Circuit Court. The company has not yet filed an answer to Hayden’s complaint, but defendants typically have 30 days to respond.
Hayden states he began working at the GR Spring & Stamping plant on Berea Road in February 2012 through a temporary staffing agency, according to the complaint.
The company 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.
“Immediately upon arrival, (Hayden) was subjected to different standards and conditions of work than Caucasian employees,” according to the complaint.
Hayden claims that during the eight months he worked at the plant, he was the only black employee.
Upon hiring, a training supervisor told Hayden, “Blacks don’t last long around here,” the complaint states.
Hayden alleges he 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 him.
Although temporary employees are typically removed from probation after 90 days at the plant, Hayden claims his supervisor refused to do his 90-day review. He was left on probation until after 120 days on the job, despite an “excellent work record,” according to the suit.
The delay deprived him of certain benefits, vacation time, compensation and other incentives on the same schedule as the white employees, Hayden asserts.
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.”
When he complained to a human resources official about the harassment, no corrective action was taken, Hayden alleges. In one instance, when making a verbal complaint to a supervisor about the discriminatory behavior of a supervisor named Johnny, Hayden states the human resources director told him to “take that up with Johnny.”
Finally, Hayden asserts in his complaint that a Confederate flag was hung above the business time clock.
Ultimately, Hayden was discharged from GR Spring & Stamping in September 2012, a move he believes was solely because of his race.
“The Defendant (GR Spring & Stamping)
did repeatedly target and harass African-American employees and worked to systematically remove them from the workplace,” the suit alleges.
Hayden is asking the 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.
The case has been assigned to Madison Circuit Judge Jean C. Logue, and no court dates have been set yet. Hayden is being represented by attorney Michael S. Fore of Simons, Dunlap & Fore in Richmond.
Sarah Hogsed can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 624-6694.