Sixty African-American plaintiffs are suing G.E. for disturbing racial discrimination. Plaintiffs allege that their G.E. supervisor said things to them like "ya'll monkeys better hurry up," "N word this and that," and would not allow them to clear their respirators of caustic lime, or take a break to wash toxic carbon-black off their faces because in his word they were "lazy blacks." An email was sent to the supervisor's manager at G.E., pointing out his "racist comments" and "views on working blacks." The email asked "Why would he continue to harass these guys...if not condoned by GE?" In her November 2, 2010 decision ordering the case to trial, U.S. District Judge Kristi K. DuBose noted that: Plaintiffs present evidence that Ray Lacy accused [GE supervisor] Dyer of racism approximately eight months before GE/BHA instituted any systematic investigation, and that GE/BHA employees Lampe, Shupert, Collier, and Gooch were made aware of those accusations before the Buzzi job commenced. Plaintiffs also present evidence that Collier "defend[ed] Dyer" in the face of Ray Lacy's accusations, and that Gooch responded to them by saying "I don't want to hear it." Although there is evidence that, following Ray Lacy's April, 2007 accusations, Lampe requested "details about what was said, when, and who was involved from our representatives, including any documentation" and spoke of a "need to investigate," reasonable jurors may disagree about whether GE/BHA's response was adequate, particularly with respect to Ray Lacy's earlier accusations.
One of the plaintiffs suffered hypothermia and suffered a seizure because the supervisor would not let them take a break on a below-zero job. The G.E.
supervisor refused to call an ambulance and, when one was called, he said "I don't care what happens to that N-word." Those who insisted on seeking medical attention he fired and called racial epithets. Plaintiffs worked for G.E. on the front lines of the green economy, changing filters at manufacturing companies like Alcoa as mandated by the EPA under the Clean Air Act.(1) The racial harassment just continued. Another G.E. manager testified that after he received an email threatening a lawsuit for the racial abuse he stopped giving plaintiffs work, which the suit alleges is illegal retaliation.
One of G.E.'s attorneys stated "this is on no one's radar [at G.E.]. . ." (1) G.E. head Jeffery Immelt recently claimed that "technology will help us make better use of old energy sources. . . . Our Ecomagination initiative has created tens of thousands of jobs at GE and in our supply chain." Plaintiffs work environment at G.E. was so toxic, that many of the plaintiffs have severe injuries. Three have died since the case was started. Several have sought psychiatric treatment as a result of the racial abuse. The lawsuit alleges that G.E. took advantage of people so poor many had never had a full time job before.