Three former employees at a Romulus truck trailer company claim they faced racist treatment while working at the business, including a display of nooses.
Three African-American men have sued Benlee, Inc., claiming in court filings that a noose was hung at the company twice while they worked there as part of a series of racial incidents aimed at intimidating them.
Jermaine Ware, a Detroit resident, filed his lawsuit In March in Wayne County Circuit Court. Last week, Marcus Gray of Westland and JaJuan Jones of Detroit, also filed lawsuits, alleging they were called the N-word and “boy” while working at Benlee Inc. In their court filings, Gray and Jones also allege white co-workers threatened them and other African American workers saying they were going to “hand them” while in full view of a 13-coil “hangman's noose,” visibly displayed on company premises. Gray's legal filing alleges that a white co-worker tried to put a wire around his neck and threatened to hang him.
Jones' suit also alleges he saw the hangman's noose in the workplace and was verbally threatened by a white co-worker. Both claim that co-workers claimed to be members of the Ku Klux Klan and that they would play racist songs including “Pick a Bale o'Cotton” in an attempt to intimidate the Black workers.
Gray worked at the company from July 2018 until October 2019, when he was laid off, while Jones worked there from May 2019 to July 2019, according to the suit. The complaint alleges Jones missed work frequently because of emotional distress and was subsequently fired.
Detroit attorney Jonathan Marko, who is representing Gray and Jones, said, “racist incidents everywhere seem to be exploding. The economy has slowed, but hate and injustice is at an all-time high.” He said he expects more workers may come forward with similar allegations of racist treatment and incidents.
The lawsuit quotes Benlee officials as saying “the noose was not used to create a racially hostile work environment but only used as a handle to raise and lower one of the inoperable sliding garage doors in the shop area, until repair.”
Benlee's attorneys declined to discuss the lawsuit Monday saying they do not comment on pending litigation against their clients.