BATON ROUGE – A local petrochemical company failed to protect workers from harassment after nooses were displayed on the property, a federal lawsuit claims.
The lawsuit alleges ExxonMobil Chemical Corp. violated federal law when it “failed to take effective measures to prevent the display of hangman’s nooses at its Baton Rouge complex,” the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said in a news release.
The lawsuit was filed Thursday.
According to the lawsuit, a Black employee at the plant found a noose at his work station in January 2020.
The lawsuit says he reported the noose and ExxonMobil was aware of three others that had been displayed on the property.
“The EEOC alleges that ExxonMobil investigated some, but not all, of the prior incidents and failed to take measures reasonably calculated to end the harassment,” a statement from the agency said.
A fifth noose was reported in December 2020 at the complex, the EEOC said.
“When employers become aware of racially offensive or threatening conduct in the workplace,
they have a legal obligation to take prompt, remedial action aimed at stopping it,” said Rudy Sustaita, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Houston District Office.
ExxonMobil spokeswoman Stephanie Cargile told The Advocate that the company has a “zero-tolerance policy” for workplace discrimination.
“All matters are investigated, and any employees found to have violated these standards or applicable laws are terminated,” Cargile told The Advocate. “Any contractor offenders would be denied entry to the site.”