A federal appeals court on Wednesday overturned a lower court and reinstated a hostile work environment charge filed by a former factory worker who was allegedly threatened with a noose by a co-worker.
However, the 6th US Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati affirmed a lower court’s dismissal of the race discrimination and retaliation claims, according to its ruling in Tyrone Rembert v. Swagelok Co.
Mr. Rembert, who is Black, started as a temporary employee at Solon, Ohio-based Swagelok’s hardware manufacturing facility as a tool bed operator in January 2017. He said he faced racial harassment on a daily basis, including on one occasion by a colleague who made a noose of the hose and told him, “This is what we̵7;re doing here,” according to the verdict.
Mr Rembert said a supervisor did not respond to his complaint.
In August 2017, Rembert was convicted of domestic violence, a fourth-degree misdemeanor. He was later offered a permanent position at Swagelok but did not report the conviction. Upon learning of this, Swagelok revoked its permanent job offer and terminated Mr. Rembert’s temporary employment.
Rembert sued Swagelok in US District Court in Cleveland, alleging racial discrimination, retaliation and a hostile work environment in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and state law. The district court announced the company’s judgment, which dismissed the case.
In reinstating the hostile work environment claim, a three-judge panel said Rembert had successfully pleaded that he belonged to a protected group and had been subjected to unwelcome harassment that was racially based and “severe or pervasive enough to alter the terms of employment” and create an abusive work environment.” It also said the company “knew or should have known about this and did nothing.”
“Rembert is entitled to a trial on his hostile work environment claim,” the panel said, remanding the case for further proceedings.
Attorneys in the case did not respond to requests for comment.
In March, the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said it had accused ExxonMobil Corp. for racial discrimination for allegedly failing to respond effectively to several instances of hangman’s nooses on display at its petrochemical complex in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.