Sacramento, CA

Black workers ask for $30 million in damages after “quit or die” threats at Kraft Heinz

Amy Christie

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Three Black former employees have brought a lawsuit against Kraft Heinz saying that other staff called them the N-word and the company took no action to protect them, as The Insider reports.

What are the details?

The former employees stated that the incidents took place between 2012 and 2018. When they went to their managers they were just told to “keep their heads down,” the lawsuit states. There was also retaliation.

A Kraft Heinz said for the Insider that the allegations were “several years old and as soon as we were made aware, we undertook an extensive investigation, including cooperating with law enforcement, to ensure that any behavior that violated our policies, if uncovered, was put to an end.”
The company has a “zero-tolerance policy for discrimination or harassment of any kind,” they added.

The lawsuit was filed by Sanford Heisler Sharp on behalf of Alex Horn, Lance Aytman, and Keith Hooker in the Eastern District of California Thursday. In the suit, it is claimed that the dairy plant in Tulare, California, was filled with “rife with anti-Black slurs, innuendos, threats, and discrimination.”

The racist behavior allegedly continued the whole time the three workers were employed by the company. A press release said that Swastikas were drawn on many Black employees’ lockers and that the N-word was often used as well as other racist stereotypes.

Anonymous notes were placed inside lockers too, and one of them read “Quit or die N—," the lawsuit states.

It is also alleged that Kraft Heinz didn’t have a strategy to combat such behavior and instead responded with “apathy and inaction.”

The former employees allegedly confronted managers about the racist incidents and because promotions were denied. They were told to “keep their heads down or else they could join the unemployment line.”

It is claimed that Kraft Heinz's corporate office gave instructions to the managers at the dairy plant not to search for the person responsible for the death threats in the lockers. It was because of those death threats that Hooker resigned from his job and Horn and Aytman took medical leaves.

Retaliation was in the cards for the disgruntled employees, as the suit points out. The three employees were given “less desirable” tasks and they were passed over when promotion was discussed.

One of the former employees “was placed on less desirable nightshifts and was forced to operate defunct machines by supervisors with a history of contributing to the anti-Black work environment.”

The plaintiffs are seeking over $30 million in damage.

“Kraft Heinz prides itself on creating diverse and inclusive workplaces, and we have a zero-tolerance policy for discrimination or harassment of any kind. Whenever a serious allegation such as this is made, we take immediate and swift action, including conducting a thorough investigation and implementing corrective actions if behaviors contradictory to our values are found,” the company spokesperson told the outlet.

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Amy Christie is a passionate writer and journalist, always striving to bring out the positive and create meaningful connections.

Dallas, TX
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