Chicago — General Motors said it is urgently working to identify which of its employees turned a Toledo plant into a cesspool of racism. African American workers allege they were routinely disparaged, not only with the n-word but with nooses, swastikas and "whites only" signs on bathroom doors.
GM's admission comes after months of sidestepping claims from 11 workers.
"I'm absolutely outraged by the fact that this kind of behavior is still able to show up in any one of our workplaces. We have zero tolerance for any kind of behavior like this," said Gerald Johnson, GM vice president for manufacturing.
Two federal lawsuits have been filed accusing GM of ignoring racial harassment. The suits claim that for at least two years, African Americans at the plant were called "boys" and "monkeys." They were also told to "go back to Africa where they belong."
"What's the big deal about nooses?" a white supervisor was quoted as saying during a meeting about racial tolerance. "There was never a black person who was lynched who didn't deserve it."
"I'm a black man and I'm all too familiar with dealing with these kinds of issues," said Derrick Brooks, who worked at GM from 2016 until last year. "To have to worry about coming to work and being called a certain name or being treated a certain way, those individuals need to be made whole again and the right thing needs to be done by this company."
GM said when it identifies those responsible, they will be fired.