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Federal lawsuit accuses shipyard supervisor of swinging noose in front of black co-workers

Cell phone video still (FOX 8 Photo) Cell phone video still (FOX 8 Photo)
(WVUE) -

A Waggaman shipyard supervisor is accused of taunting a group of African-American workers with a hangman’s noose. At the time, the workers had been discussing the removal of Confederate monuments in New Orleans.

“He got upset, and so then he went and brought out the noose and said to James and the other plaintiffs to, 'Look out here I come.' He was swinging the noose,” says attorney Glen McGovern.

McGovern represents three of the workers from the Archer Daniels Midland shipyard. He has filed federal lawsuits against the company and former supervisor, Edward Collins.

The June 12 incident was captured on cell phone video.

“When the video was shown to the local supervisors, Edward Collins, according to witnesses, walked off the job, but they called him back a couple of days later and continued to work and wasn’t isolated from them or anything,” says McGovern.

According to the lawsuit, "The company ADA did nothing to remedy blatant violations of it’s anti-discrimination policy for months after petitioner Bourgeois and at least 14 other African-American employees signed a petition asking for an investigation against Collins."

“No action was taken. Then, they filed EOC complaints, and at that point, the home office people came down and started to investigate,” says McGovern.

ADM issued the following statement:

"ADM has zero tolerance for hate, racism and discrimination, and does not stand for the kind of behavior alleged in this complaint. Consistent with our policies, upon learning of this incident we immediately investigated and promptly took action. As a result, we terminated the employment of the supervisor.

"In addition, we promptly had all of our employees in the division undergo ethics and sensitivity training, which was incremental to the annual ethics training all of our employees undergo.

"The employees in the lawsuit remain employed by ADM and we value their continued service."

“The purpose is a deterrent, and that’s why we’re doing this. That’s why these guys are sticking their necks out to bring this forward. It shouldn’t happen, and we don’t want this to happen to anybody else,” says McGovern.

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