Employees at an industrial Tennessee cotton gin filed a federal complaint against their former supervisor, accusing him of making racist comments and enforcing a whites-only policy at work.
The two men, Untonia Harris and Marrio Mangrum, said the intolerance at Atkinson Cotton Warehouse went on for months. Eventually, Harris had enough and recorded the supervisor’s statements with his cell phone.
In one of the conversations, the supervisor told Harris he couldn’t drink from certain water fountains.
“What they do when they catch me drinking your water?” Harris asked the supervisor in one of the recordings.
“That’s when we hang you,” the supervisor responded.
Another recording featured Harris talking to the supervisor about using a microwave.
“Why can’t I use the microwave man?” Harris asked.
“No. You’re not white,” he responded.
The supervisor even took to comparing black employees to monkeys, the men said.
“We all know what monkey means,” Mangrum said. “That’s very offensive.”
“I had to bite my tongue a lot,” Harris said.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission was investigating the discrimination claims.
Lawyers watching the case said the warehouse will need to settle.
“I’m sure there will be other witnesses who can also confirm these things were said,” said employment and labor law attorney Matthew Billips.
The company that runs the warehouse, Federal Compress, released a statement to ABC News saying it had “zero tolerance” for discrimination and that the supervisor was no longer employed with the company.
Copyright 2014 by ABC News