LEXINGTON, Ky. – Eight black men won a $5.3 million jury award Thursday in a lawsuit over claims that they endured a hostile work environment at UPS in Lexington, Kentucky, and that an effigy of a black UPS driver was hung from a ceiling.
The Lexington Herald-Leader reported a Fayette County Circuit Court jury also found UPS discriminated against one of the eight and that the company retaliated against two men after they complained.
UPS is disappointed with the decision and is considering appeal options, Susan Rosenberg, spokeswoman at corporate headquarters in Atlanta, told The Associated Press by telephone on Thursday.
“UPS has strict policies against harassment and discrimination,” Rosenberg said. “We reinforce that. There’s no retaliation if employees raise concerns.”
When the suit was filed in 2014, a UPS spokeswoman said the dummy was part of safety training for drivers and not intended to offend anyone.
The verdict was returned Thursday after about eight hours of deliberations.
The jury awarded $1.5 million for emotional and mental distress to William Barber; $1 million to David Young; $810,000 to Glenn Jackson; $800,000 to John Hughes; $500,000 each to Jeffrey Goree and Donald Ragland; and $100,000 each to Curtis Weathers and Lamont Brown.
There was testimony and evidence that an effigy of a black UPS driver was hung from the ceiling for four days. The lawsuit said a UPS manager made a dummy in a UPS uniform that hung from the ceiling from Aug. 9-13, 2012.
The dummy’s hands and one foot were tied to a ladder to demonstrate the “three points of contact” that employees should have when using a ladder. Twine was tied around the dummy’s neck and to the ceiling. The lawsuit says UPS claimed that was to “prevent the dummy from falling forward.”
Luke Morgan, one of the plaintiffs’ lawyers, said there was also testimony about racially hostile words used in the workplace.
Barber, Goree, Hughes, Young and Weathers continue to work for UPS, Morgan said.
Rosenberg said they have continued working while the dispute went through the courts.
“We value their experience, their performance, their attention to service, and we expect that from all employees,” she said.
Subscribe to the Morning Review newsletter
Get the day’s top headlines delivered to your inbox every morning by subscribing to our newsletter.