The progressive Kellogg cereal company, known for funding causes aimed at “white privilege,” “institutional racism,” and efforts to defeat voter ID laws, has been accused of standing by and doing nothing as employees at one of its New England distribution centers are daily subjected to mistreatment and racist name calling by management. One African American employee was even allegedly harassed with a picture of a baboon.
A number of employees of the cereal giant’s Franklin, Massachusetts, distribution center, which handles shipping of its Kellogg’s Keebler cookie products, have filed formal complaints and some lawsuits over alleged racial and sexual abuse by managers, according to a report by a local Rhode Island NBC affiliate.
Employees charge that they were constantly the subject of racial epithets, comments on their sexuality, and images of black faces, baboons, and other animals hung around the warehouse. They were also frequently threatened with firing and in some cases even physical abuse, and all the while, employees say, management in Kellogg’s main headquarters in Michigan was aware of the whole situation but did nothing to stop it.
According to complaints made by up to a dozen employees, “their workplace is riddled with bullying, racial slurs and unfair work practices,” Rhode Island NBC Affiliate Channel 10 reported.
One employee, Sylvester Cyler, an African American employee of ten years, told reporters that he has been called the N-word and a “monkey,” and despite filing complaints starting in 2013, nothing has been done to stop the harassment.
Cyler charges in a complaint filed with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD) that one manager “got in his face” and called him a monkey while threatening to fire him if he complained of the harassment.
“Nothing was resolved because of the grievance and Arthur continued to badger me,” Cyler said in his complaint. “He threatened to fire me. He got in my face, pointing his finger in my face and called me a monkey.”
But Cyler isn’t alone. Another employee, an immigrant from Angola named Rui DaCosta, also filed complaints claiming that he, too, has faced a constant barrage of racial and sexual harassment.
Among the incidents DaCota alleges, in 2008, his manager, Arthur Cacici, “showed me a picture of a baboon with a blue face and orange butt. He then said to me, ‘Hey Rui, is that you taking it up the a**?'”
DaCosta also charged that one day he was confronted with a picture of a person with a half white and half black face and big lips. On the paper was scrawled “hello my name is Rui 1/2.”
“I find this picture embarrassing and humiliating,” DaCosta wrote in his complaint filed with MCAD. The Rhode Island NBC Affiliate reports that DaCosta settled with Kellogg’s and is no longer working for the company.
Other employees also reported harassment going back years, and at one point, documents indicate that the Kellogg corporate offices became involved when a representative of the company’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion was sent to give a course on discrimination to the employees and management of the distribution center.
But some employees allege that nothing changed, and harassment continues to this day.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston or email the author at email@example.com.