Boss Distributed Premarked GOP Ballots on Day Republican Senator Toured Plant, Employees Say

Five black employees of an Alabama-based trucking firm say they were given pre-marked Republican ballots on the day a sitting Republican senator came to visit their facility, and that "an employee drew cross hairs or a target on a picture of President Obama and posted it in the workplace."

The five employees made the allegations in a recently-filed discrimination lawsuit against Altec industries. The company makes specialized trucks, including aerials, digger derricks and telescopic cranes.

The little-noticed story was noted by Tracy Walsh on Monday at Courthouse News.

According to Walsh, plaintiff Australia Harris alleged that "In or around October 2008, Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) came to the facility where plaintiff was employed and talked to the employees about voting Republican. Plaintiff and other employees were informed they had to attend the rally with Senator Sessions. In addition, the owner of the company informed the employees they should vote Republican and gave the employees pre-marked ballots."

Sessions, pictured above on the right, was first elected in 1996, and was previously the Attorney General of Alabama. A spokesman for the senator did not immediately respond to a request for comment on this story.

Harris also said in his complaint that a white coworker told him to take off a pro-Obama shirt when he wore it to the plant after the election.

He averred that his colleague told him that the "O" on his shirt "was the perfect circle for a cross hair. I can reach you from 500 yards away," and added, "I'm not kidding," according to Walsh's report.

By contrast, a second employee, who has also filed a lawsuit against the company, said that the firm allowed workers to wear Confederate flag insignia and that Altec "condoned and tolerated the racial harassment" and "has a habit and/or practice of discrimination against African Americans."

Added Walsh:

In their discrimination complaints, all five employees claim they were "subjected to different terms and conditions of employment because of their race," including denial of promotions and training. They say they were given a different dress code than white workers and denied breaks that white employees enjoyed...

After complaining about the discrimination, Miracle Walters, Shantavia Brown, Derrick McDaniel and Nelson say they were all fired due to "downsizing," and some were not allowed to return to their offices to collect personal belongings.

[One plaintiff] says he was not fired, but was given a more demanding job after his complaints.

The plaintiffs seek lost wages and punitive damages for racial discrimination, retaliation, hostile workplace, and emotional distress.

While Sessions isn't accused of wrongdoing, the Alabama senator has had his own run-ins with racial issues. When nominated for a federal judgeship in 1986 by then-President Ronald Reagan, an Assistant US Attorney accused Sessions of calling him "boy."

The attorney, Thomas Figures, also testified that "Mr. Sessions admonished me to 'be careful what you say to white folks.'"

Walsh's full story is available here.

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. AlterNet’s journalists work tirelessly to counter the traditional corporate media narrative. We’re here seven days a week, 365 days a year. And we’re proud to say that we’ve been bringing you the real, unfiltered news for 20 years—longer than any other progressive news site on the Internet.

It’s through the generosity of our supporters that we’re able to share with you all the underreported news you need to know. Independent journalism is increasingly imperiled; ads alone can’t pay our bills. AlterNet counts on readers like you to support our coverage. Did you enjoy content from David Cay Johnston, Common Dreams, Raw Story and Robert Reich? Opinion from Salon and Jim Hightower? Analysis by The Conversation? Then join the hundreds of readers who have supported AlterNet this year.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure AlterNet remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to AlterNet, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.

DonateDonate by credit card


Don't Sit on the Sidelines of History. Join Alternet All Access and Go Ad-Free. Support Honest Journalism.