Exxon Mobil sued over 5 slipknots on display at Louisiana plant


Exxon Mobil Corp. violated federal law by failing to take adequate precautions when five hanger hooks were installed at its facility in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, the U.S. government has heard in court.

According to the government, in January 2020, a black worker found and reported a hook at a site operated by Exxon Mobil Corp. in Baton Rouge. At the time, the company was aware of three other nooses found at the resort, but failed to investigate all complaints and take steps to prevent such harassment, USA Equality said. The Employment Opportunity Commission filed the lawsuit Thursday.

Then, in December 2020, a fifth slide was discovered at the complex, which includes a nearby chemical plant and oil refinery. Exxon Mobil’s failure to act created a racially hostile work environment, the EEOC alleges.

Exxon Mobil spokesman Todd Spitler said in a statement Sunday that the company disagrees with the EEOC’s allegations and “encourages employees to report such complaints here, and we have thoroughly investigated.”

“Fighting symbols are unacceptable, offensive and against our company policy,” Spitler said. “We have a zero tolerance policy for any form of harassment or discrimination in the workplace by or against employees, contractors, suppliers or customers.”

Employers who become aware of racially offensive or threatening behavior in the workplace are legally “required to take prompt corrective action to stop it,” said Rudy Sustaita, an EEOC district attorney. in Houston, in a statement.

Elizabeth Owen, senior counsel for the EEOC’s New Orleans office, said in a statement that the hook demonstrations called for swift action.

“The noose is a longstanding symbol of the violence associated with the lynching of African Americans,” he said. “Such symbols are inherently threatening and fundamentally change the working environment for black Americans.”

In 2021, eight hooks were found at an Amazon warehouse construction site in Connecticut. Amazon briefly shut down the site after the seventh appeared.

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