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African-American woman says Verizon coworkers left noose over her desk

"Verizon does not tolerate harassment or discrimination," the company said after Marisa Powell filed a lawsuit claiming her employer didn't take action after she reported issues.

An African-American woman who says she has been stalked and harassed by a coworker and last month discovered a noose made of wires on her desk is suing her employer, claiming Verizon never took action about her allegations.

Marisa Powell, a 30-year Verizon employee, alleges in the lawsuit filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Trenton, New Jersey, that in June 2015 she was stalked at work and yelled at by a white coworker while working at the company's Morristown office. The alleged harassment was immediately reported numerous times to supervisors and union representatives, however, neither took action, the lawsuit states.

Marisa Powell alleges a noose made out of cable wires was hung from a support beam over her desk last month at a Verizon office in Madison, New Jersey.
Marisa Powell alleges a noose made out of cable wires was hung from a support beam over her desk last month at a Verizon office in Madison, New Jersey.Marisa Powell / via Fuggi Law Firm

David Weissmann, a spokesman for Verizon, said the company could not comment on the pending litigation, but said it had received the lawsuit Tuesday and was looking into Powell's allegations.

"Verizon does not tolerate harassment or discrimination," Weissmann said. "When discrimination or harassment comes to our attention, we investigate and take appropriate action."

Powell, a network technician who still works for Verizon, went on leave for nine months “due to the documented medical condition she had developed over the constant stalking,” according to the lawsuit.

When she returned to work, Powell was reassigned to a Verizon office in Madison, where she still had to interact with her alleged stalker, the lawsuit states.

She claims in the lawsuit that when she addressed the alleged stalking to her supervisors, she was told that "Verizon could not protect her and to call 911 if she felt she was in danger."

Powell also alleges the company violated the Americans with Disability Act by not giving her special accommodations when she returned from her medical leave.

On Feb. 14, Powell said she found a noose made of cable wires hanging from a support beam directly above her desk.

“Defendants were fully aware of the fact that plaintiff is an African-American woman, the history of African-Americans and symbols such as nooses, and the harm that would come to the plaintiff by hanging this noose for her to see,” the lawsuit states.

Powell is seeking unspecified compensatory and punitive damages, as well as attorney's fees and other costs.