Hawaiian grocer sued for alleged managerial racism

HONOLULU (AP) – Managers at a Hawaiian food distribution company discriminated against a black employee by exposing him to racist abuse and slavery, the U.S. Equal Opportunities Commission alleged in a lawsuit.

According to the lawsuit, a supervisor at the Suisan Company’s Hilo warehouse racially yelled at the worker, who then wrote an incident report.

Another manager who conducted the investigation also used a racist epithet during a meeting with the employee, the lawsuit said. During a second meeting, the manager and another supervisor joked about slavery, the lawsuit says.

The commission alleges in the lawsuit filed in Honolulu’s U.S. District Court last week that the man was later dismissed in retaliation for reporting the harassment.

Company officials did not immediately respond to a phone message on Monday asking for comment.

The Commission wants the company to pay compensation, including for lost wages and for emotional wages, suffering and humiliation. The agency also wants the company to be encouraged to make changes to ensure it is not engaging in illegal employment practices.

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