Lawsuit Filed By Black Factory Worker, Who Says He Was Fired After Reporting a KKK Hood Above His Workstation, Will Proceed
The lawsuit of an African-American factory worker, who says he was fired after reporting a racist incident, will proceed despite a recent attempt by the defendants to have it dismissed.
Isiah Washington claims his former employer, the Sierra Aluminum Company of Riverside, Calif., fired him in April 2015 after he was targeted by co-workers who put a KKK hood above his workstation. "You could clearly see what it was meant to be, the eyes, it was like they were looking at me," Washington told the Daily Mail Online after filing the lawsuit. "The KKK, that’s what I know, I just thought it was bad—clear as day."
According to Washington's lawsuit, he was one of just five black workers in a 500-man crew. Shortly after Washington and three of the other black workers were transferred to another building, he was jarred by the sight of a KKK hood above his workstation. The lawsuit, which was obtained by the Weekly Challenger, states that:
"The plastic sheet was white in color and it clearly had eyehole cuts to make it appear as a Ku Klux Klan hood, known worldwide as a symbol of racial hatred and terror against African Americans. This white, sharply pointed hood of a full faced sheet with eyeholes hanging, as seen by Washington at his workstation, is the most distinctive feature of the Ku Klux Klan and is known as the ‘glory suit.'"
Washington says he immediately took a picture of the hood and notified his supervisor. According to Washington, the supervisor referred to him as a "puto" (a Spanish slur for homosexuals) and told him to get back to work. The lawsuit claims the harassment continued until Washington was terminated, allegedly for failing to visit a company doctor after a workplace accident.
The defendants attempted to dismiss portions of the case, claiming a KKK hood doesn't constitute a threat of violence. However, California federal Judge Dolly M. Gee denied the motion at the end of July. The Bloom Firm, which is representing Washington, put out a statement, which was obtained by Law Newz:
"In denying the defendants’ motion to dismiss Mr. Washington’s claims under California’s civil rights laws, the court agreed with The Bloom Firm that in 'arguing that KKK symbols do not connote violence or threat of violence, defendants completely ignore or are oblivious to the violent historical context of these shameful symbols of hate.'”
Watch a Daily Mail video segment on the lawsuit below: