New York Civil Rights Attorney Eric Sanders, Esq., of The Sanders Firm, P.C., alleges in a $50 Million Dollar federal lawsuit that GE through its affiliate GE Energy in Schenectady fosters a sexually and racially hostile work environment by promoting a ‘White Male Only’ corporate culture
June 25, 2012 (Albany-NY) – Yvonne W. Alex says that working at GE Energy was analogous to working on a ‘plantation.’
Alex, who is African American, says that she started working at GE Energy in or around November 1981 and terminated on September 20, 2011, while employed she endured sexually and racially offensive behavior from several white supervisors, managers and co-workers. Of those who did not engage in such behaviors, they were indifferent to such offensive conduct.
Sometime after July 12, 2006, GE hired former Super Steel employees’ Michele Lanoue, Christopher Boniewski and Michael Tomassone despite being implicated engaging in serious racially offensive actions against several African American employees’ at Super Steel including the posting of offensive articles such as a “Hangman’s Noose” Alex claims.
She says, it all started sometime in 2008, when then presidential candidate Barack Obama was campaigning to become president of the United States. Employees’ would leave “Birther” packages on Alex’s desk espousing hatred towards President Obama, immigrants, Blacks and other racial minorities while promoting “White Supremacy.” Shortly thereafter, she and Judy Bennett observed a “Hangman’s Noose” on the floor, it was removed by GE supervisor John Jordan but, never reported to Human Resources nor was there any investigation to determine who placed such article in the workplace.
Beginning in May 2009, former Super Steel employee Michele Lanoue along with decedent Frank Harris and others would post depictions of prominent persons of color throughout the workplace such as: “First Dog” referring to the First Lady Michelle Obama, Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor with a “Grand Wizard Hat” and a “Swastika”, “2012 Do Not Re-nig” referencing President Barack Obama, a caricature of President Obama that read “Jerk in the Box,” graffiti posted which read “Obama does not want fatties” and a host of other racially offensive postings referring to persons of color as “terrorists” “Nig” and Nigger.” They would also post depictions of firearms, shooting magazines etc., and would hold them up whenever she walked past them.
Other employees’ such as Lizbeth Golab would send her anti-immigrant emails including a depiction of a Caucasian Male “Biker Guy” holding a gun with the slogan “I am a White Gun Owner, down with immigrants.” They would leave gun magazine subscription cards and used rifle targets with burn holes indicating that a cartridge passed through it in her work area. Some were basic sighting targets; others depicted “Barney” referencing her weight.
Alex says that on January 12, 2011, former Super Steel employee Michael Tomassone displayed a brown monkey hanging by its blue cape on his locker. However, the article mysteriously disappeared before President Obama’s advance team of Secret Service agents swept the building before his visit. She indicates that Tomassone has displayed other depictions of Anti-Obama and Anti-Muslim postings. That same day, former Super Steel employee Christopher Boniewski along with Tomassone and Josh Scranton along with others, were overheard in a discussion referencing African Americans as “Niggers.” President Obama visited several days later.
On numerous occasions Alex claims, GE Supervisor Richard Boswell would read sexually and racially offensive jokes during the morning meetings such as: The Latest News Can Certainly Have This Effect, referencing how calling a suicide hotline may be routed to Pakistan, implying that Pakistanis would encourage the caller to become a suicide bomber. He would read others including: A Marine’s Wife Confesses, referring to how during a twenty-one gun salute of President Obama, the Marines missed, implying that she is sad because they missed killing him and Apartment on Rent, implying the worth of an “unchaste” woman’s vagina for a “short-stay” is only worth $250 instead of $500, because of “misrepresentations.”
Throughout her employment, along with the racially offensive materials, playboy magazines, pornographic movies and other pornographic materials were openly displayed in the workplace.
In response to her complaints, Alex was transferred, received less overtime, relieved of her responsibilities as an Inspector, then eventually terminated for being a “disruptive employee.”
“Whenever, African-Americans or other persons of color complain about discrimination and related conduct in the workplace their complaints are routinely ignored by the management” says Alex.
Sanders said that the management routinely violated federal and state Civil Rights Laws by failing to take appropriate action to ensure that the workplace is diverse, and free of discrimination.