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Mitsubishi has a racial discrimination lawsuit on their hands. Friday, four elevator mechanics filed a lawsuit against Mitsubishi Electric US, Inc. and Mitsubishi Electric US Holdings, Inc.

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According to Katherine Zaremba of the California Civil Rights Law Group, in their complaint, they describe supervisors at Mitsubishi referring to Black workers as “undesirables,” “lazy,” and “dumb ass n***ers”, delegating them menial tasks, and failing to provide them with the same training opportunities. Plaintiffs LeiRoi Bowie, Gabriel Ross, Lavell Roberson and Craig Martin also state Mitsubishi failed to provide Black mechanics with a safe work environment, and take remedial and effective action to stop the harassers from continuing their harassment, and deter others from engaging in similar racist conduct.

In 2019, Plaintiff LeiRoi Bowie found a noose on the barricade next to his assigned elevator while working on a construction site in Downtown Oakland. It was his first day at that particular site; he was the only Black worker on site.

“I was terrified,” said Bowie. “I knew someone was sending a message about what happens to people like me when we step where we ‘don’t belong,’” referring to the predominantly White elevator mechanic trade.

While an apprentice was fired for the offense, Bowie and others on site that day say the man behind the threat, Mechanic In Charge Jermaine Florence, was not reprimanded. He continued to menace Bowie and other Black workers under his charge.

Mitsubishi’s protection of supervisors, who openly disdained Black workers, used racial slurs including the n-word, and openly displayed the confederate flag on toolboxes, is a symptom of the larger problem at Mitsubishi.

Four supervisors, including Florence, are named in the suit. The filing details supervisors boasting of clearing the elevator trade of “undesirables.” And telling Black workers horrifying jokes like, “How do you get a Black guy out of the tree? Cut the rope.”

Workers allege that Black mechanics were routinely assigned menial tasks, like sweeping, and other non-mechanic work while more junior white apprentices were given substantive elevator work. The Plaintiffs also alleged they were given less overtime hours, resulting in significant wage loss, and denied benefits like housing for out-of-state workers, which White workers received.

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