A former Navy technician’s treatment at a Florida heavy equipment company followed his supervisor’s stated belief that “all ——s are good for is cleaning,” an EEOC federal court racial discrimination lawsuit claims. The derogatory term in question is a racial slur.
The suit says through four years as the only black technician in his department at Ring Power, Shakeem Petersen dealt with a glass ceiling, demotion and co-workers jokes about “being nothing more than a maid.”
Ring Power, based in St. Augustine, said Tuesday it doesn’t comment on pending litigation.
Petersen got hired in July 2013 for work at Ring Power, the suit says, via a job fair in Chicago. The suit accuses Petersen’s supervisor, Joshua Carlson, of singing lead in a racist chorus.
The suit lists 11 Carlson racist comments Petersen heard directly or heard that Carlson made including, “n—— don’t know what they are doing” and “n—— are lazy.”
“Because of Petersen’s race, Carlson routinely assigned Petersen janitorial work assignments such as sweeping, mopping and buffing Ring Power’s shop’s floors throughout Petersen’s employment at Ring Power,” the suit says. “According to Carlson, ‘All n—– are good for is cleaning.’”
It says Carlson recommended Petersen be terminated, which resulted in a demotion to an apprentice technician position and a pay cut from $18.50 an hour to $14 an hour. Even when after graduating from the apprentice technician program, the suit says, he was still kept at cleaning assignments.
“Non-Black technicians were given interesting and challenging work assignments,” the suit says. “Petersen was given menial, humiliating and degrading work assignments. Non-Black technicians routinely joked about Petersen being nothing more than a maid—not a technician.”
Petersen told Ring Power he was leaving the job on Oct. 9, 2017 because of his supervisor and being repeatedly racially slurred. Though a manager told him someone from Ring Power would follow up with him, the suit says, nobody did until his resignation became effective Oct. 19, 2017.