US agency sues Exxon for discrimination after nooses found at plant

FILE PHOTO: Logo of the Exxon Mobil Corp is seen at the Rio Oil and Gas Expo and Conference in Rio de Janeiro

(Reuters) - Exxon Mobil Corp was sued for racial discrimination by a U.S. federal agency on Thursday, with charges alleging that the oil major failed to protect workers from harassment after nooses were found at one of its facilities in 2020.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) said in a statement that a Black employee at Exxon's chemical plant in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, found a hangman's noose at his work site in January 2020.

The EEOC said that at the time of this report, Exxon was already aware of three other such instances of nooses being displayed at the complex and a nearby refinery, and that a fifth noose was reported later in 2020.

According to the EEOC, Exxon investigated some of these incidents, but not all, and "failed to take measures reasonably calculated to end the harassment."

The federal agency alleged that Exxon's actions and omissions regarding the noose incidents "created a racially hostile work environment."

Exxon said it disagreed with the EEOC's findings and allegations.

"We encourage employees to report claims like this, and we thoroughly investigated. The symbols of hate are unacceptable, offensive, and in violation of our corporate policies", Exxon said in a statement.

(Reporting by Mrinmay Dey in Bengaluru; Editing by Christopher Cushing)