Some stories of workplace discrimination are hard to fathom.
Four litigants — all men of color — have filed lawsuits in California alleging that they suffered a string of offensive events while working at a company owned by Vivint Solar, which is controlled by the same parent company as Vivint Smart Home. According to the suit, the men are all seeking compensation over racially-based harassment, racial discrimination, retaliation and wrongful termination.
What makes this case so unusual is that some of the complaints alleged by the men are so extreme that they’re almost difficult to believe — except that there’s photographic evidence showing what happened. For example, the white supervisor and white co-workers of two black employees constructed a “white pride playhouse” in the company’s warehouse. Assembled like a child’s cardboard fort, the playhouse was labeled “white only.”
The fort was just one of the racist events that happened in the workplace. Others included things like a white supervisor offering a black employee a banana while saying, “Monkeys like bananas.” Insults and racial epithets were commonplace.
Black workers weren’t the only people targeted by the racial attacks. Potential customers weren’t immune either. One supervisor took video inside a black customer’s home that mocked the family’s apparent credit-worthiness on the basis of their ethnicity. Hispanic employees were taunted in an online group chat forum where one employee said joked about “Mexican showers,” implying that Hispanic employees only used cologne to cover up their body odor instead of bathing.
Complaints went largely unheeded by the human resources department. If anything was done at all, it wasn’t visible to the men who suffered the harassment. At least one of the men who filed a claim was so distressed by the actions of his co-workers and supervisor that he had to leave his job due to a hostile work environment.
It would be nice to believe that racism is a thing of the past, but events like this prove that it is alive and well. If you’ve been the subject of racial discrimination and your complaints ended up gaining you nothing but retaliation and an eventual pink slip, a wrongful termination attorney can help you understand your legal options.