A Greenup, Kentucky law firm has won a $5.3 million judgment in a civil case brought by eight employees against UPS. Bruce McDonald of the Greenup/Lexington law firm of McBrayer, McGinnis, Leslie and Kirkland said a black dummy used in a training exercise was hung at that location, and even after the employees asked that it be taken down, was left up, leading to a civil case filed in the Fayette County, Kentucky Court against the company’s Lexington office.
“At this location they had 12 drivers, seven of them were black and they were doing some training and the UPS version of it was that this was just a dummy that happened to be black,” McDonald said. “And they couldn’t get him to sit up right so they put a noose around his neck and hung him and the black gentlemen that worked there said it created a hostile work environment and they asked that this be taken down or modified in some fashion because it certainly looked racial to them and they felt that and UPS didn’t take it down.”
The case went to trial and last Thursday and the jury came back with a $5.3 million verdict against UPS.
“It was a pretty outrageous set of facts and the jury obviously thought so,” McDonald said. “There were issues of retaliation after they complained about it and it was basically a hostile work environment.”
McDonald quoted two of the employees:
Donald Ragland, 63, one of the plaintiffs said – “You go up against a big corporation like UPS, usually you get smacked in the face.”
“The verdict of the jury maybe will change things at UPS because they really need changed,” said 54 year old William Barber, a tractor trailer driver, who remains with the company. “We hope UPS sees this and addresses the situation.”
“I have no reason to believe that UPS would make this their practice,” McDonald said. “and would hope that this would not be the sentiment of their company – and I’m sure that it’s not – but in this particular incident, poor judgment was utilized.”
McDonald said the jury deliberated 8 hours before returning the verdict on Thursday (April 14).
McDonald said the $5.3 million judgment is the largest discrimination award in the history of Fayette County, Kentucky. Each of the plaintiffs was awarded “a sum specific.”