The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has filed a lawsuit against one of the biggest crane providers in North America, accusing them of racial discrimination against four Black employees.
TNT Crane & Rigging is listed as a defendant in the lawsuit filed on Aug. 24. It alleges that the company fostered and subjected employees – identified as Edwin Crayton, Lorenzo Smith, Freddie Campbell and Jason Pradia — to a hostile work environment.
According to the lawsuit, the employees had to grapple with their field manager as well as a number of colleagues using racially offensive language, including the N-word, on the job. Also, hate symbols associated with white supremacy, like “nooses and lightning bolt stickers,” were openly displayed on the grounds with no disciplinary action.
In one April 2018 incident, Smith, who served as a crane operator, was ordered by the field manager to pick up an air conditioning unit at the Fort Worth facility while working in Frisco, Texas. He was met with racial slurs when he asked the manager for help.
“N*gger, if you are going to b**ch about it, you can turn that truck around and take your a– home,” the manager allegedly said, according to the lawsuit.
When Smith attempted to report him, as stated in the lawsuit, he didn’t receive an “effective response” from his management. Crayton also allegedly had a similar experience while working as a crane operator at the company.
The complaint also says he was called the N-word by a field manager. It also alleges that Campbell, a truck driver, overheard his colleagues using the derogatory term. He later discovered that he also was being referred to as a white co-worker’s “Black daddy.” When he tried to put in a report, management, he reportedly was told, said it would be handled. However, it was not addressed.
Pradia started working as a rigger for the company in 2019. He claimed that in one interaction, a white colleague told him, “A lot of Black people are f—ing lazy.”
“You’re different, you’re not like other n—ers. You work though; that’s what I like about you,” that person allegedly said.
The complaint mentions Nathan Cook, a white employee, who was targeted after reporting the harassment and discrimination he witnessed in the work environment. According to the lawsuit, Cook alleged that he was physically assaulted and labeled a “wigger” and “snitch” by his peers. Following his complaints, his hours and pay were reduced. The alleged retaliation, along with other factors, led him to resign from his position.
“TNT knowingly permitted a work environment filled with racist comments and imagery. No employee should have to work in an environment openly hostile to their race, and no employee should suffer reprisal for objecting to discriminatory practices,” EEOC attorney Brian Hawthorne said in a recent news release.
The lawsuit requests compensatory and punitive damages for the Black employees. For Cook, EEOC seeks similar relief, including back pay, front pay, or potential reinstatement.