discrimination, racism, nooses, Fiat Chrysler, zero tolerance, retaliation

Black Employee Reports Noose Found at Auto Plant and Gets Fired

Charlene Lust was punished after doing the right thing, despite the company’s “do not retaliate” policy. 

Charlene Lust, a former employee of Fiat Chrysler Assembly subcontractor, MacLellan Integrated Services, a company based in Lexington, Ky., saw a noose hanging in a Sterling Heights Assembly Plant in Michigan in February and posted a photo and video of it on social media.

“I literally almost fainted. I’ve never seen one,” Lust, a Detroit resident, said. “When I saw the noose, I was like stuck.”

She was in the Macomb County plant’s paint shop when she found it. She was fired after posting it on social media.

FCA, with majority white male leadership, said that they don’t tolerate harassment or discrimination of any kind, assured they have a zero tolerance policy and would fire the person who committed the act when they find them.

But this isn’t the first incident for suppliers of Fiat Chrysler. The Toledo Blade reported last year that a subcontractor employee at FCA’s Toledo Assembly Complex was fired after hanging a noose at the plant.

FCA spokeswoman Jodi Tinson also said in an email: “What I can say is that FCA does not tolerate retaliation against any person who reports a violation or participates in an investigation involving a workplace incident. Such behavior is strictly prohibited and anyone found engaging in such behavior will be dealt with accordingly.”

But now the mother of four children is facing eviction for trying to improve her working conditions.

Lust has filed complaints claiming discrimination based on race and retaliation with the Michigan Department of Civil Rights against MacLellan, FCA and her union. The UAW, according to spokesman Brian Rothenberg, has filed a grievance against MacLellan on Lust’s behalf.

When the post went public the UAW for Fiat Chrysler released a statement condemning the action:

“We are appalled at these reports. It is always unacceptable when a member suffers the indignity of slurs based on race, gender, religion or sexual orientation. The UAW has been and will always be a leader in fighting discrimination in the workplace,” Estrada said in an email.

Reporting racism has proven to be an uphill battle for those who choose to call out other companies for their inaction. Last month, for example, a Black man in Toledo, filed a lawsuit against Whirlpool for being fired after reporting numerous incidents of racial discrimination at work.

4 Comments

  1. Joseph Harvey

    Well, some people did complain to the company and nothing gets done. Any other bright suggestion, Catherine A Quinlan?

  2. While it may have been more prudent for Ms. Lust to report the incident internally first (rather than taking to social media), it’s a bad look for Fiat Chrysler to fire her for calling out discriminatory and racial harassment in the work environment. A written warding or reprimand would’ve been more appropriate, in my perspective, if what she did was a violation of employment policy. Termination seems rather extreme, at least based on what’s been reported.

  3. Well…. she should have complained to the company first, give them a chance to deal with it. Then if they didnt, post it on social media.

    • Bessie Brogdon

      She was looking at the threat of death from the inside.She knew she had to let the “outside” known. In case she was killed “accidently”.

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