Former workers sue shipyard, claim 'racially-hostile work environment'

17 former employees of a shipyard in Norfolk are suing the company -- alleging discrimination against minority workers

NORFOLK, Va. (WVEC) -- Seventeen former employees of Lyon Shipyard, Inc. filed a federal lawsuit against the company, saying it discriminated against employees.

The African-American and Hispanic plaintiffs stated in court documents that the work environment at Lyon was "racially-hostile" and that the shipyard engaged in "disparate treatment" and "retaliation."

"Lyon engaged in a pattern and practice of race discrimination and subjected 
African-American and Hispanic employees to extraordinary racial harassment.  The company discriminated in hiring, promotion, compensation, and other terms and conditions of employment.  Lyon had notice that management and employees engaged in racial harassment and discrimination, yet allowed it to continue."

The former employees contend that managers and their teams used racial slurs and derogatory terms for African-American and Hispanic workers on a regular basis.

"Supervisors made remarks to and about African-Americans, using the “N” word, such as “These ni***rs aren’t going to get it, why should I even teach them?” or “I am going to get rid of these ni***rs and get me a new crew” or “I can’t call you ni**** anymore, so now I have to call you ninja.”

They stated that there was a constant presence of racial imagery at the shipyard, including nooses.

In one instance, a plaintiff saw a fellow shipyard worker "tie a noose and wave it around on a Navy ship." Other inflammatory images included graffiti consisting of KKK, swastikas and the "N" word.

The former employees said that managers did nothing to address the images or other concerns. The plaintiffs said that African Americans and Hispanics were paid less than white colleagues in similar situations and "subjected to disparate terms and conditions of employment, including hiring, promotion, and discipline." They added that African Americans and Hispanics received work assignments that were tougher, dirtier, more dangerous, and more uncomfortable than white counterparts.

The former workers are requesting that the court order Lyon Shipyard to institute and carry out policies, practices, and programs that provide equal opportunities to employees who are qualified and that will wipe out the effects of unlawful employment practices. The plaintiffs also are seeking monetary compensation.

Lyon Shipyard provided this statement to 13News Now:

"On Tuesday, November 14, 2017, a lawsuit was filed in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia against Lyon Shipyard, Inc. accusing Lyon Shipyard of employment discrimination. Lyon Shipyard is an Equal Opportunity Employer that does not tolerate discrimination or harassment of any kind at the shipyard. The allegations in the lawsuit are baseless and false. Lyon Shipyard looks forward to telling the true facts of our story in Court and to clear its good name and the good names of its employees who are the targets of these outrageous and disgusting accusations."

NOTE: The following complaint from federal court appears exactly as it was filed and contains the uncensored language used to illustrate allegations of racial discrimination.

Complaint Against Lyon Shipyard by 13News Now on Scribd

© 2017 WVEC-TV


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