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General Mills turned blind eye to decades of racism at Georgia plant, Black workers allege

The Georgia plant where General Mills produces cereal and trail mix is run by a "Good Ole Boy" network of White men who have spent decades wrongfully demoting and hurling racial slurs at Black workers, eight current and former employees allege in a federal lawsuit filed this week. 

The class-action suit, filed in the Northern District of Georgia in Atlanta, accused General Mills of violating federal civil rights laws, as well as state and federal racketeering laws. 

Specifically, the plaintiffs accuse White supervisors at the Covington plant of numerous racist acts allegedly committed over two decades and intended to punish and intimidate Black employees. That includes an alleged 1993 incident in which a noose was left on a Black employee's desk, the suit states. In another, according to the complaint, the word "coon" was allegedly written on a work form used by one of the plaintiffs.

"In the 1990s, White employees, without fear of repercussions from management or HR, openly used the N-word and other racial slurs and attempted to intimidate Black employees with racial hostility," the suit alleges. 

Senior managers at General Mills never reprimanded the supervisors for their racist behavior, the suit claims. 

"HR routinely informs racist White supervisors about the content of complaints against them along with the identity of the Black employees who made the complaint," the complaint claims. "This frequently results in retaliation against Black employees."

The Covington plant, which General Mills opened in 1988, makes Chex, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Cocoa Puffs and Trix cereals. 

General Mills declined to comment on the litigation. "General Mills has a long-standing and ongoing commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion and we do not tolerate discrimination of any kind," the company said in a statement. 

Georgia attorney Douglas Dean, who is representing the Black employees, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Recent cases of alleged racial discrimination in the workplace have led to large legal settlements. In 2023, for example, fitness chain Equinox agreed to an $11.2 million settlement after a former Black employee in New York accused a White male co-worker of refusing to accept her as his boss. 

Also last year, a federal jury awarded $3.2 million in damages to a Black former worker at a Tesla factory in California who had alleged rampant racial discrimination at the facility.

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