ExxonMobil Sued as Allegations of Civil Rights Discrimination Emerge, 5 Nooses Displayed at Louisiana Facility

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Inside Edition Digital has reached out to ExxonMobil for comment on the lawsuit but has not heard back.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, a federal agency, filed a lawsuit Thursday against ExxonMobil alleging a Black worker was subjected to racial hostility over several years when five nooses were found at a company complex in Baton Rogue, Louisiana, according to reports.

In a lawsuit obtained by the Washington Post, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said that in January 2020, a Black employee found a hangman’s noose at his worksite at the Baton Rouge complex run by ExxonMobil Corp. and reported it. At the time, the feds say that ExxonMobil Corp. knew of three other nooses that had been found at the complex, but it failed to investigate all the complaints and take action to prevent such harassment. 

In December 2020, a fifth noose was found at the complex, according to the lawsuit.

ExxonMobil’s lack of action created a racially hostile work environment, the EEOC said in its lawsuit, according to the Washington Post.

ExxonMobil allegedly "investigated some, but not all, of the prior incidents and failed to take measures reasonably calculated to end the harassment" which resulted in "a racially hostile work environment," according to a statement from the EEOC obtained by Inside Edition Digital.

ExxonMobil's lack of action, the federal agency alleges, was a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, according to NPR.

"A noose is a longstanding symbol of violence associated with the lynching of African Americans," Elizabeth Owen, a senior trial attorney for the EEOC's New Orleans office, said in the statement. "Such symbols are inherently threatening and significantly alter the workplace environment for Black Americans."

Michael Kirkland, director of the EEOC’s New Orleans Field Office, added, “Even isolated displays of racially threatening symbols are unacceptable in American workplaces.”

An ExxonMobil spokesperson responded to the lawsuit in a statement to NBC Friday.

“We disagree with the EEOC’s findings and allegations,” the statement to NBC said. “We encourage employees to report claims like this, and we thoroughly investigated. The symbols of hate are unacceptable, offensive, and in violation of our corporate policies. We have a zero tolerance policy of any form of harassment or discrimination in the workplace by or towards employees, contractors, suppliers or customers.”

Inside Edition Digital has reached out to ExxonMobil for comment on the lawsuit but has not heard back.

The EEOC filed the suit in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana, after it said it tried to reach a settlement.

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