DALLAS (CN) - Managers and employees at U.S. Xpress Enterprises locked a black tire technician in a cage with a "large dead rat," said he looked like a monkey, asked if he wanted a banana, and told him to say "master" to be freed, Keith Johnson claims in Federal Court.
Johnson, the only black employee in his department, claims his co-workers and supervisors regularly harassed him by putting dead birds and rubber snakes in his work area, excluding him from shop meetings, and denying him 15-minute breaks and overtime.
When he complained to his maintenance manager that other employees had been spitting on his tools, the manager allegedly replied, "What do you want me to do?" and then spit on Johnson's shoes.
The plaintiff adds that he was often given janitorial work and unreasonable deadlines. On one occasion, he says he was instructed to change all eight tires on a vehicle in 45 minutes - a job that normally takes at least two hours.
"When Mr. Johnson said he could not do it, his manager told him, 'You will have it done or you will get your black ass home. Obama can't save your black ass,'" the lawsuit states.
When the shop burned down in November 2008, Johnson claims his manager asked, "Why did you do it?"
He says an injury related to the cage incident kept him from returning to work.
He demands actual and punitive damages for the alleged racial discrimination. His attorney is Barrett Stetson.
Read the Top 8
Sign up for the Top 8, a roundup of the day's top stories delivered directly to your inbox Monday through Friday.