Three Black Ex-Kraft Employees Sue Company For $30M Over Death Threats

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Three Black former employees are suing the Kraft Heinz company for $30 million after claiming they faced routine racist harassment from colleagues and supervisors. 

The lawsuit claims the former coworkers received notes in their lockers calling them the N-word and threatening their life if they didn’t quit their jobs, CNN reported

Attorneys representing Alex Horn, Lance Aytman, and Keith Hooker filed the complaint against the food company in the US Eastern District Court of California on Thursday (August 19). 

Court documents allege the three men endured “a pattern of harassing and discriminatory behaviors based upon their race” over several years along with other Black employees who also worked in a dairy facility located in Tulare. 

Co-workers allegedly drew swastikas on the lockers of multiple Black workers and sent a note that read, “no n***as as coordinators” on one reported incident and another that said, “quit or die n***er,” the legal complaint says. The lawsuit included photos of the notes. 

“The Tulare Plant was rife with anti-Black slurs, innuendos, threats, and discrimination,” the lawsuit said. “The anti-Black abuse came from peers and supervisors, who controlled whether plaintiffs would receive promotions, transfers, and raises. Not surprisingly, the supervisors passed over plaintiffs in favor of non-Black employees.” 

The lawsuit said Hooker felt forced to quit his job after 22 years at the company over the death threats he received. Horn and Aytman, who both started working at the plant in 2011, were fired in 2019 for “pretextual grounds,” the lawsuit stated. 

The company said the men’s complaints were several years old and had reportedly already conducted an investigation into the complaints, though a spokesperson didn’t reveal the results of the probe to CNN

All three men claim they suffered mentally and emotionally from the workplace environment they endured. Horn was diagnosed with PTSD and depression while Aytman received a depression and anxiety diagnosis. Hooker said in the complaint he hasn’t found steady work since quitting and has noticed “changes in his mood and relationships” from the time he started working at the plant. 

“Kraft Heinz prides itself on creating diverse and inclusive workplaces, and we have a zero tolerance policy for discrimination or harassment of any kind,” the company said.

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