Iowa’s John Deere Sued After Worker Dubbed “Angry Black Man”
John Deere may be in some hot water as a worker sues the company alleging that his coworkers and supervisors subjected him to racist jokes and threats for years.
An article in the Des Moines Register says that Johnnie Ray Hogan III worked at John Deere Des Moines Works in Ankeny since 2010. For years he was subject to many different racial slurs that all started back on his first day with the company that September.
According to the Kansas City Star, Hogan would try to ignore the racial harassment for years. In 2019, one of his coworkers dubbed him “the angry Black man”- a nickname that spread and was used by many other workers. He was even called it by a supervisor. The lawsuit states that in January 2020, a supervisor announced “the angry Black man is here” at a morning meeting.
There were many other examples that the lawsuit pointed out.
In December 2019, one of Hogan’s supervisors in the shipping department showed him a picture of a biracial baby and allegedly asked "which one of your cousins or homies got ahold of my baby?" says the Des Moines Register article.
The Des Moines Works factory employs around 1,000 workers and is best known for its production of sprayers and cotton pickers. One day when Hogan told a coworker that he had worked in the cotton department, the coworker allegedly replied saying "It's good you and your ancestors have something in common.”
On top of the racist jokes Hogan receives, the lawsuit alleges he was also on the receiving end of threats.
The article alleges that Hogan’s team leader once threatened him by saying he "needed to be chained to a dock." That same day, another coworker told him no one would find him if someone threw him into a box with black parts.
Hogan has made complaints about the treatment he received. In November 2020 he went through the company’s civil rights hotline but no changes were made, said the Kansas City Star. In 2021, he transferred departments and was still faced with racism. That March he made another complaint through the hotline, this time a supervisor was fired.
After that, the lawsuit alleges that many of his coworkers and supervisors began to avoid him.
Hogan also made a couple of complaints through the Iowa Civil Rights Commission. Both of his complaints resulted in the commission granting him a “Right to Sue Letter”
A John Deere Spokesperson responded to the lawsuit by saying "we do not comment on pending litigation. However, workplace discrimination and harassment have no place at John Deere and the allegations do not reflect our principles and expectations of our employees."
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