Hawaii food distributor sued for supervisors’ alleged racism

HONOLULU — Supervisors of a Hawaii food distribution company discriminated against a Black employee by subjecting him to racial slurs and racist references to slavery, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleged in a lawsuit.

According to the lawsuit, a supervisor at Suisan Company’s Hilo warehouse shouted racial slurs at the worker, who then completed an incident report.

Another manager who investigated also used a racial epithet during a meeting with the employee, the lawsuit said. During a second meeting, the manager and another supervisor made jokes about slavery, the lawsuit said.

The commission alleges in the lawsuit filed last week in U.S. District Court in Honolulu that the man was later fired in retaliation for reporting the harassment.

Company officials didn’t immediately respond to a phone message seeking comment Monday.

The commission wants the company to pay compensation, including for lost pay and for emotional pay, suffering and humiliation. The agency also wants the company to be ordered to make changes to ensure it doesn’t engage in illegal employment practices.

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