Black Contractors Sue Amazon After Finding Eight Nooses at Warehouse Construction Site

Workers Allege Delays Reporting Hate Symbols and Retaliation for Speaking Up

A group of five minority electricians filed a federal civil rights lawsuit in September accusing Amazon and contractors of failing to swiftly respond after discovering multiple nooses hanging at a Connecticut warehouse construction site last year.

The Black and Hispanic workmen allege supervisors dragged their feet addressing the first hate symbol found at the Windsor facility in April 2021. But slack protocols enabled discovery of seven more nooses over subsequent weeks, creating intolerable conditions for contractors facing hostility.

“The appearance of a noose…sends a clear message of hostility towards the men of color working there: ‘You are not welcome here, and you better watch your back,’” declares the complaint by subcontractor Wayne J. Griffin Electric personnel. They accuse Amazon and construction manager RC Andersen of laggard reactions that emboldened racist conduct.

Lawyers for the plaintiffs argue that rather than receive support as victims, their clients instead faced doubts about their own truthfulness. The FBI apparently investigated whether the workmen themselves staged the nooses upon getting involved, according to counsel.

“They had vocally complained as witnesses to hateful criminal conduct in their workplace and yet they were now being treated as perpetrators,” contends attorney Steve Fitzgerald. He says lingering trauma from feeling intimidation now requires psychiatric treatment.

Connecticut police confirm that nearly two years later, no culprits behind the noose discoveries have been publicly identified or arrested. Amazon earlier offered a $100,000 reward seeking leads.

In their lawsuit, the contractors reference a similar 2017 incident where a noose turned up at another Connecticut site managed by the same companies, but a Griffin Electric supervisor purportedly declined alerting police since no photographic proof existed.

Collectively the plaintiffs accuse Amazon and contractors of enabling an environment where racist harassment could occur serially without safeguards protecting vulnerable workers. They seek financial damages for negligence that upended their employment.

The episode spotlights apparent widespread shortcomings addressing hate symbols in construction, an industry with deep racial disparities in hiring and promotion to management. One investigation tallied 55 nooses found at North American building sites between 2015-2021 with few repercussions.

Rather than remedy such glaring workforce inequities, indifference to nooses found on worksites may further strain retention of qualified minority laborers. While the Windsor perpetrator(s) remain unidentified, lessons on combating systemic prejudice at project sites hang in the balance alongside unfinished business for companies now under fire.

Photo by Kindel Media