Black Female Employee Sues Fiat Chrysler Automobiles For Racial Discrimination After Series Of 'Monkey Incidents' At Workplace
When clay design sculptor Valarie Davis found an inflatable monkey draped over her cubicle wall at the Fiat Chrysler Automobile headquarters in Auburn Hills, the discovery was nothing new.
For a decade, Davis, who is black, says her co-workers at the Auburn Hills-based automaker engaged in racial discrimination while management turned a blind eye.
According to a federal lawsuit filed last week, Davis, 47, of Grosse Pointe, claims company officials did nothing to curb her co-workers’ racist behaviors, which often involved the use of a monkey in several incidences from 2004 to this year.
“How much can a person tolerate before they do something,” Troy-based attorney Shereef Akeel said. “It’s intolerable. It’s outrageous.
“An employee can only do so much to report discrimination. ... It’s incumbent upon human resources to ensure employees are working in a hostile-free environment.”
Included in the lawsuit, filed Oct. 26 in the Eastern District court in Detroit, includes 13 photos of the alleged incidents.
“(They) speak volumes,” Akeel said.
The suit says the company and its employees “engaged in horrific, discriminatory conduct.”
Davis was hired in 2000 and the incidents began some four years later when co-workers began using “monkey call” devices to make a whistling noise and referred to her as “chicky monkey.” A co-worker also once asked Davis if her breastmilk would taste like chocolate milk. Others also asked Davis, who lived in Detroit at the time, if she lived in “the ghetto.”
In 2013, co-workers began placing monkeys, stuffed and inflatable, in and around Davis’ cubicle, according to the lawsuit. One of the toys was wrapped in Christmas lights similar to a noose.
“We have at least 11 different monkeys,” Akeel said.
In at least one other incident, Davis’ co-workers imitated attorney Johnnie Cochran’s infamous line from the O.J. Simpson murder trial from the mid 1990s — “if the glove does not fit, you must acquit,” according to the suit.
A company spokesman said Monday afternoon Fiat Chrysler had not been served with the lawsuit, but issued a statement:..........
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