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Plaintiffs Awarded $1.2 Millionin Arkansas race discrimination case

 

Arkansas Nucor Plant Found Guilty of a Racially Hostile Work Environment, Plaintiffs Awarded $1.2 Million

BIRMINGHAM, Ala., -- The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas has ruled in favor of six plaintiffs in a race discrimination case against Nucor Corp.'s steel plant in Blytheville, Ark.

The rural, twelve-person jury (11 white, 1 black) unanimously determined that the Charlotte, N.C.-based company is guilty of racial hostility against black employees. The jury found Nucor guilty of supervisor racial hostility and co-worker racial hostility at its Blytheville, Arkansas plant based, in part, on the acts of Dan DiMicco, who is currently the CEO of Nucor. DiMicco was the General Manager of the Blytheville plant at the time that many of the racial offenses occurred. The six plaintiffs were each granted $100,000 in compensatory damages and $100,000 in punitive damages, for a total of $1.2 Million.

Wiggins Childs, Quinn & Pantazis is the Birmingham, Ala.-based law firm that represents the plaintiffs.

"Given what the six Arkansas plaintiffs had to endure since their suit was filed in 2003--not to mention the indignities they suffered which led to the case in the first place--any one of them will tell you this victory is about a lot more than money," says Robert L. Wiggins, Jr., lead attorney. "In the bigger picture, it's about getting Nucor to treat its black employees with the same decency and respect as they give other employees."

Racial acts presented as evidence included lynching reenactments, racial slurs broadcasted over the plant's radio system, portrayals of black employees as monkeys, and a variety of other racial insults directed at African-American employees. Nucor also sold, in its own company store, items bearing confederate flags and the Nucor logo.

The Court noted that "white employees burned a cross in the roll mill department and covered their heads with hoods", a supervisor hung "a chicken with a hangman's noose... in another black employees workstation", and "repeated racial slurs, nooses and similar items hung in the roll mill department, and racially offensive graffiti on bathroom walls."

STRIKING SIMILARITIES TO ANOTHER CASE AGAINST NUCOR

This is the second time in 2009 that a federal court has confirmed a pattern of racial hostility against African-Americans employees at Nucor's plants. On August 7, 2009, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit noted racial hostility at Nucor's plant near Charleston, South Carolina, including the fact that:

               "white supervisors and employees frequently referred to black
                employees as nigger, bologna lips, yard ape, and porch monkey.
                White employees frequently referred to the black employees as
                DAN, which stood for dumb ass nigger. These racial epithets
                were broadcast over the plant-wide radio system, along with
                Dixie and High Cotton. Monkey noises were also broadcast over
                the radio system in response to the communications of black
                employees. The display of the Confederate flag was pervasive
                throughout the plant, and items containing Nucor's logo
                alongside the Confederate flag were sold in the plant's gift
                shop. Additionally, several e-mails that depicted black people
                in racially offensive ways, such as by showing them with
                nooses around their necks, were circulated by various
                employees. Once, an employee held up a noose and told a black
                co-worker that it was for him."
                                  --Brown v. Nucor appellate decision, at 151.

All current or former black employees of the Nucor Berkeley plant in South Carolina from December 8, 1999 are now part of a class-action suit, Brown v. Nucor--which will be tried in Charleston.

About Wiggins, Childs, Quinn & Pantazis, LLC (www.wcqp.com): Since 1985, Wiggins, Childs, Quinn & Pantazis has established a tradition of excellence in discrimination, consumer protection, and employment law. The firm is recognized nationally for its expertise in representing employees and consumers in a wide range of civil disputes -- from individual lawsuits to complex class action litigation. A successful history in the courts has established Wiggins, Childs, Quinn & Pantazis' reputation as a leader and advocate for the rights of individuals in areas such as civil rights, labor and employment, consumer fraud, healthcare litigation, mass torts, contract, product liability, personal injury, business torts, and environmental law.

The firm has offices in Birmingham, AL and Washington, D.C. Its lawyers have represented clients in state and federal courts, including the United States Supreme Court, various United States Circuit Courts of Appeals, the Alabama Supreme Court, and a variety of other state Appellate courts.

CONTACTS:

Erin Whaley (205-939-4001) | erin@harebrains.com

 

SOURCE Wiggins, Childs, Quinn & Pantazis



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