Black employee sues Boeing after finding noose at desk

The plane manufacturer said that while Curtis Anthony is "a valued Boeing South Carolina teammate," there is no validity to his claims.
Image: FILE PHOTO: The new Boeing 787-10 Dreamliner taxis past the Final Assembly Building at Boeing South Carolina in North Charleston
The new Boeing 787-10 Dreamliner taxis past the Final Assembly Building at Boeing South Carolina in North Charleston, South Carolina, on March 31, 2017.Randall Hill / Reuters file

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By Janelle Griffith

A black employee at Boeing has filed a federal lawsuit against the company alleging racial discrimination after he said he found a noose hanging over his desk, where he claims white co-workers urinated several times.

In the lawsuit filed June 7, Curtis Anthony, a quality inspector at Boeing's plant in North Charleston, South Carolina, alleges that unidentified white workers used the N-word on a daily basis and urinated on his desk and seat several times beginning in 2017. He also said placards were hung by his work station displaying the racial epithet.

Anthony, 57, who has been a quality inspector with the plane manufacturer since 2011, immediately reported the alleged harassment to his managers. His attorney, Donald Gist, told NBC News on Monday that Boeing responded by replacing his desk and chair.

Anthony took medical leave in September 2017 under the Family and Medical Leave Act and sought treatment for his stress caused by the alleged mistreatment. He said that he is still receiving medical treatment for stress related to the harassment.

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The lawsuit claims that after he returned to work in January 2018, he was passed over for promotions in favor of “lesser qualified Caucasian workers.”

According to the lawsuit, Anthony's co-workers placed a noose above his desk in March in “an act of extreme racial violence designed to intentionally inflict emotional distress.” After an investigation, Boeing fired the person responsible for the noose, which Anthony’s attorney said he learned about from reading reports in the news.

Anthony said that in recent months, after he complained about the alleged harassment, he faced retaliation by being moved to a building with no air conditioning.

A spokesman for the company told NBC News on Monday that while Anthony is "a valued Boeing South Carolina teammate," there is no validity to his claims.

His requests for leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act "have been consistently and repeatedly approved by the company in an expeditious manner," the spokesman said.

"Moreover, most of Mr. Anthony’s allegations were never brought to the attention of management, giving the company no opportunity to investigate these claims," the spokesman said. "The single issue he did raise was dealt with promptly and in a fair manner."

Anthony's attorney disputed Boeing's response.

"How can you say you're unaware of the complaints and then you buy him a new desk and chair," Gist said. "They're totally contradicting themselves."

Anthony is seeking compensatory and punitive damages, including attorneys' fees, and other litigation expenses.