Five black employees of an Alabama-based trucking firm say they were given pre-marked Republican ballots on the day a sitting Republican senator came to visit their facility, and that “an employee drew cross hairs or a target on a picture of President Obama and posted it in the workplace.”
The five employees made the allegations in a recently-filed discrimination lawsuit against Altec industries. The company makes specialized trucks, including aerials, digger derricks and telescopic cranes.
The little-noticed story was noted by Tracy Walsh on Monday at Courthouse News.
According to Walsh, plaintiff Australia Harris alleged that “In or around October 2008, Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) came to the facility where plaintiff was employed and talked to the employees about voting Republican. Plaintiff and other employees were informed they had to attend the rally with Senator Sessions. In addition, the owner of the company informed the employees they should vote Republican and gave the employees pre-marked ballots.”
Sessions, pictured above on the right, was first elected in 1996, and was previously the Attorney General of Alabama. A spokesman for the senator did not immediately respond to a request for comment on this story.
Harris also said in his complaint that a white coworker told him to take off a pro-Obama shirt when he wore it to the plant after the election.
He averred that his colleague told him that the “O” on his shirt “was the perfect circle for a cross hair. I can reach you from 500 yards away,” and added, “I’m not kidding,” according to Walsh’s report.
By contrast, a second employee, who has also filed a lawsuit against the company, said that the firm allowed workers to wear Confederate flag insignia and that Altec “condoned and tolerated the racial harassment” and “has a habit and/or practice of discrimination against African Americans.”
In their discrimination complaints, all five employees claim they were “subjected to different terms and conditions of employment because of their race,” including denial of promotions and training. They say they were given a different dress code than white workers and denied breaks that white employees enjoyed…
After complaining about the discrimination, Miracle Walters, Shantavia Brown, Derrick McDaniel and Nelson say they were all fired due to “downsizing,” and some were not allowed to return to their offices to collect personal belongings.
[One plaintiff] says he was not fired, but was given a more demanding job after his complaints.
The plaintiffs seek lost wages and punitive damages for racial discrimination, retaliation, hostile workplace, and emotional distress.
While Sessions isn’t accused of wrongdoing, the Alabama senator has had his own run-ins with racial issues. When nominated for a federal judgeship in 1986 by then-President Ronald Reagan, an Assistant US Attorney accused Sessions of calling him “boy.”
The attorney, Thomas Figures, also testified that “Mr. Sessions admonished me to ‘be careful what you say to white folks.'”