Cotton warehouse supervisor fired over alleged racist remarks

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- A contractor has fired a cotton warehouse supervisor in Memphis, Tennessee, after two black employees accused him of saying that a microwave and a water fountain were for "whites only."

Federal Compress said the Atkinson Cotton Warehouse supervisor was removed from the warehouse and is no longer employed by the company, according to a statement obtained Wednesday by CBS Memphis affiliate WREG-TV. Federal Compress provides workers for the warehouse.

Antonio Harris and Marrio Mangrum told WREG-TV in a story broadcast Monday that they filed racial discrimination complaints with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against the supervisor, who was not named by Federal Compress.

The EEOC does not make discrimination complaints public.

The men told WREG-TV that the supervisor called them "monkeys."

Harris recorded the supervisor, who said, "I need to put a sign here that says 'White People Only'" on a water fountain.

Harris then asked the supervisor what would be done if he were caught drinking from the fountain.

"That's when we hang you," the supervisor said, according to the audio recording, which was obtained by WREG-TV.

Harris said he also recorded the man saying he could not use the microwave because it was "whites only."

"I think about this every day, every day of my life," Harris told WREG-TV.

Federal Compress said it has a zero-tolerance policy that prohibits any form of racial or other discriminatory conduct or language at work.

The owner of the warehouse, E.W. Atkinson, told WREG-TV that he wasn't around enough to know about the alleged abuse.

"I just wasn't around. I'm sorry that I didn't know that sooner," Atkinson said.

Atkinson told WREG-TV that he had no idea the supervisor running his cotton warehouse made such remarks.

"I don't want people to think that we would let this behavior go on without doing something about it, seriously," Atkinson said.