A specialty meat supplier in southern Louisiana will pay a former employee $67,500 to settle allegations of pervasive racial discrimination at its two facilities outside Lafayette, federal officials said.
Don’s Specialty Meats, a purveyor of Cajun favorites like Boudin and Cracklin, is accused of allowing its general manager to routinely use derogatory language and racial slurs against a Black worker — one of two out of 79 employees, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said in federal court filings.
The EEOC is the federal agency tasked with enforcing anti-discrimination laws in the workplace and filed the lawsuit on the former employee’s behalf.
“Harassment based on race and the use of racial slurs is intolerable, and an employer must act to assure that harassment of this kind is prevented and, if it happens, is vigorously addressed,” EEOC trial attorney Peter Theis said in a news release announcing the settlement.
Lawyers and a representative from Don’s Specialty Meats did not immediately respond to McClatchy News’ request for comment on Thursday, Jan. 20.
Under the terms of the agreement, Don’s Specialty Meats has agreed to pay the employee $50,000 in damages and $17,500 in back pay, according to court documents. The company is also barred from discussing the litigation if asked for a job reference regarding the former worker and must wipe it from his personnel file.
Employees will additionally undergo training on anti-discrimination laws, and the company will revise its written anti-discrimination policies and provide compliance reports to the EEOC.
The federal agency first reached out to Don’s Specialty Meats in August after the former employee filed a charge of discrimination and the EEOC determined there was reasonable cause to believe the company had discriminated against him.
But attempts to resolve the dispute outside of court failed, the EEOC said, and a federal complaint was filed in the Western District of Louisiana on Sept. 24.
According to the lawsuit, Don’s Specialty Meats hired the now-former employee in 2018. He worked first at its facility in Scott, Louisiana, and later at its original location in nearby Carencro. Don’s was started in 1993 and opened a second location in 2005, according to its Facebook page. The meat supplier is famous for its Boudin, a mixture of rice, ground pork and seasonings stuffed into sausage casing.
The employee, whom the EEOC described as African American, was one of just two Black workers employed by Don’s Specialty Meats at each facility during his tenure.
The general manager repeatedly referred to him as “Black boy,” “the Black boy” or “little Black guy,” the EEOC said, and he was listed on the work schedule as “Black boy” while his non-Black colleagues were identified by name.
Racial slurs were also common at Don’s Specialty Meats, according to the lawsuit. The general manager was accused of routinely using the n-word and referring to another Black employee’s baby as such. When Don’s was looking for new hires, the employee was told applicants “just can’t be Black,” the EEOC said, and if trash needed to be picked up on the roadside, it was always “the Black boy” who was assigned to do it.
Things came to a head in early July 2020, when a supervisor repeatedly called the employee a racial slur and other insulting names in front of his coworkers, the complaint states.
The employee complained to management and was subsequently dismissed for the day, the EEOC said. When he returned to work, he was reportedly told the supervisor would not be punished. According to the lawsuit, the general manager then told the employee he loved him and referred to him by the same derogatory name the supervisor had used.
He quit the following day, the EEOC said, and the only discipline his supervisor ever faced was being told she couldn’t wear her Don’s Specialty Meats T-shirt for a day.
An eighth-grade Livonia Public Schools student who allegedly posted a video that is circulating on social media threatening to kill Black people while he held a gun is no longer in school and was visited by police at home, school officials said on Friday.
The nine-second video shows the Emerson Middle School student holding a handgun and saying: “I am ready for the n——. Gonna kill them now because I want a lawsuit right now mother——.”
As he speaks, the student adds a magazine to the weapon and racks the slide as if to load the weapon. A Confederate flag hangs on a wall behind him.
Livonia police Lt. Charles Lister said his department was notified of the Snapchat video on Dec. 23 and made a visit to the child’s home that day.
A University of South Florida football player kicked off the team after he was accused of rape has filed a federal discrimination suit against the university.
Charges against Kevaughn Dingle, 22, were dropped by the Hillsborough State Attorney’s Office. But Dingle said in the lawsuit that his arrest by campus police in November 2017, his expulsion and the resulting news coverage “destroyed” his life.
According to the suit, filed Dec. 8 in U.S. District Court in Tampa, USF “rushed to a judgment” in the case for a number of reasons — the emergence at the time of the “Me Too” women’s rights movement, mistrust toward Black men, flawed investigative and judicial processes, internal bias in favor of female accusers and embarrassment over a prior USF assault case.
“White students accused of the same conduct violations as (Dingle) were provided less severe sanctions, subject to more thorough and time-intensive investigations, and provided due process during the investigation and hearing process,” the lawsuit stated.
Dingle insisted to investigators that his sexual encounter with another student, identified in the lawsuit as Jane Roe, was consensual, the lawsuit said. There were “outrageous inconsistencies” in the version of events she gave investigators, the lawsuit said.
Police said they had “developed sufficient cause” to arrest Dingle on a charge of sexual battery. But the State Attorney’s Office disagreed, deciding not to pursue charges against Dingle because of a lack of criminal evidence, the lawsuit said.
The office could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
USF never issued a statement after the charges were dropped, the lawsuit said. The university will have no comment on the pending litigation, spokesperson Althea Johnson said Tuesday.
Neither Dingle nor his attorneys, Kenneth G. Turkel and Anthony J. Severino of Tampa, could be reached for comment Tuesday.
The Pembroke Pines native released a statement on Twitter in 2018 maintaining his innocence and criticizing USF.
“False accusations hurt the real victims of sex crimes,” Dingle wrote. “The accused deserves to have an unbiased investigation and a real chance to defend himself. The State Attorney’s Office gave me both of those things, but USF did not.”
Watching the pre-trial immunity hearing for William Marcus Wilson put into perspective the real crisis of Georgia’s legal system. Wilson, who is Black and was with a white woman during the incident that led to the death of Haley Hutcheson, has been sitting in pre-trial detention for over 400 days.
Initially denied bond, Wilson’s legal counsel filed a motion to reconsider bond in December 2020. And yet, the judge still has taken no action on that motion nearly a year later.
Let that sink in for a moment. In a system that claims people are innocent until proven guilty, a young man sits in jail without so much as a clear ruling on bond because the judge refuses to issue a decision.
Maintaining his innocence, Wilson insists that he was in fear for his life after a truck full of drunk, white teenagers tried to run his car off the road while screaming “N*gger/lover” at him and his girlfriend. The group also threw presumably empty beer bottles at Wilson’s car.
Not one received even a citation for driving under the influence. There were no repercussions for riding around with open beer bottles in the truck or drinking/purchasing alcohol while underaged – all of which they admitted to law enforcement that night.
But as the immunity hearing approached a close on the second day of testimony, I became horrified as basic Constitutional protections seemed to disappear right before our eyes. Protections like the right to legal counsel, due process, and judicial impartiality appeared in question. Wilson’s defense counsel discovered that Judge Michael Muldrew and District Attorney Daphne Totten had improper communication during the trial.
Instead of using the proper procedure to acknowledge the mishap, they attempted to cover it up without notifying the defense, giving the appearance of judicial impropriety. The district attorney submitted evidence to the judge never shared with Wilson’s defense. And when it was brought to the court’s attention by the defense team, Muldrew held Wilson’s lead defense counsel, Attorney Francys Johnson, in contempt of court.
Johnson, a noted civil rights advocate and attorney in the state, was detained for over six hours. His co-counsel was also threatened with contempt for refusing to allow the bailiffs to manhandle Johnson. If a judge can do this to an officer of the court, imagine what happens to defendants.
This is the current state of Georgia and this country’s legal system. Judges and prosecutors act without professional integrity because they do not expect serious accountability. This is also the result of a failed legal system that seeks to punish people who either are unable to pay bond or are simply the victims of a legal crisis.
Though we call on specific actors, such as Judge Michael Muldrew, to be held accountable when they infringe on the rights of others through a perverted sense of power and privilege, there are so many others that go unnamed and unchecked.
There are deteriorating elements of a legal system, particularly in Georgia’s rural and coastal South, that are threatening the very sustainability of any pursuit of justice within our entire state. Daphne Totten also illustrates this crisis. As district attorney, she failed in securing an indictment in the murder of Julian Lewis. The Georgia State Patrol and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation both agreed that Lewis’ death was murder. Totten still refuses to release the video and audio of Lewis’ murder by Trooper Jake Thompson.
Former District Attorney Jackie Johnson is another example. While indicted for a minor offense related to her failure to prosecute the murderers of Ahmaud Arbery, she still has not been held responsible for dozens of cases in which she was grossly negligent in the execution of her duties as a prosecutor.
Georgia’s legal crisis extends even to its jails and prisons, as incarcerated people are continuously subjected to inhumane and often deadly conditions. State legislative hearings and the Department of Justice led statewide civil rights investigations into Georgia’s prisons – many of which are in South and rural Georgia communities.
These are just a few of the tens of thousands of cases in which justice is never served. In every aspect of this crisis, lives and communities are being destroyed. The failures of legal institutions persist through a lack of accountability, transparency and clear impartiality. It’s ultimately up to us to abolish these systems and reimagine a new way.
Young people like Wilson get dragged through the system with procedural delays and the broad realm of judicial and prosecutorial discretion standing in the way of just action. Reasonable fear of blackness is accepted, but Black people’s genuine fear of severe bodily injury or death is often disregarded.
The time is now for bold ideas and a relentless pursuit of justice that respects the rights of all people and ensures accountability for any and every actor that inflicts violent harm through the denial of human and constitutional rights. The time is now to bring Marc Wilson back home. Our charge is clear; this is our moment.
James Whitfield, a Black educator, said he was asked by his school district in 2019 to remove Facebook photos of himself and his wife, who is white, embracing on a beach.
In June 2019, shortly after James Whitfield, a Black educator, was hired as the principal of a middle school in Colleyville, Texas, an administrator with the school district called and asked him to take down photos on Facebook that showed him and his wife, who is white, embracing intimately on a beach.
Puzzled why someone had dug up 10-year-old images of the couple celebrating their anniversary in Mexico, Dr. Whitfield nonetheless complied by changing the settings to “Only Me.”
But the photos have now resurfaced amid a controversy over racism that erupted in the Grapevine-Colleyville Independent School District after Dr. Whitfield wrote a Facebook post on Saturday about the request. Some have publicly called for Dr. Whitfield to be fired, citing unrelated messages in which he invoked race, while others have circulated a petition in support of his work.
When Dr. Whitfield, 43, asked in 2019 what was wrong with the photos, “The response was ‘nothing,’” he recalled in an interview on Wednesday. “Then they proceeded to say: ‘We just don’t want to get stuff stirred up. So if you could take it down, we would appreciate it.’”
From that moment, Dr. Whitfield said, he had a sense that issues of race would overshadow his tenure as a Black educator rising in the ranks of the district’s public school system.
“I knew what would come one day,” he said. “I knew a day like this would be here.”
Dr. Whitfield said he wrote the post — the first time he has addressed his situation publicly — because he could no longer be silent after he was criticized on July 26 during a previously scheduled board meeting that was open to residents of the district, where he is now the first Black principal at Colleyville Heritage High School.
At the meeting, Dr. Whitfield’s name was thrust into some of the most pressing racial debates in the United States, including loaded discussions of critical race theory, last summer’s protests after the death of George Floyd, and programs meant to ensure equality and diversity.
“For the better part of the last year, I’ve been told repeatedly to just ‘get around the fact that there are some racist people’ and ‘just deal with it and stay positive’ each time the racist tropes reared their heads, but I will stay silent no longer,” Dr. Whitfield wrote.
“I am not the CRT (Critical Race Theory) Boogeyman,” he wrote. “I am the first African American to assume the role of Principal at my current school in its 25-year history, and I am keenly aware of how much fear this strikes in the hearts of a small minority who would much rather things go back to the way they used to be.”