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Workers Sue Daimler Trucks In Oregon, Alleging Racial Discrimination

Saying they were threatened with violence and harassed by white co-workers, several current and former employees of a Daimler Trucks plant in Portland, Ore., have filed a lawsuit seeking some $9.5 million. The plaintiffs are African-American.

The lawsuit comes a month after Daimler Trucks settled civil rights complaints with other minority workers at its Portland plant for $2.4 million.

From Portland, NBC TV station KGW reports:

"The plaintiffs range in age from 35 to 64. One employee, 64-year-old Joseph Hall, had been working at Daimler for 10 years when he alleges that half a dozen white co-workers began threatening violence, using racially charged language, writing graffiti showing 'hangman's nooses' at work, and putting chicken bones in his co-worker's locker."

The station says that after Hall reported the incidents, he was told he should retire early or he'd be at risk of losing his health insurance.

According to the lawsuit, another plaintiff was targeted because of both her weight and her race. In court papers, she accuses one defendant of greeting her "with a 'Heil Hitler' salute" and a stare.

The plaintiffs in the suit had been involved in an earlier case that ended with January's settlement. That case, which also involved state regulators, led Daimler Trucks to promise "to train its supervisors and set up an outside complaint hotline," Oregon Public Broadcasting reported.

Daimler Trucks tells KGW it won't comment on the active litigation.

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Bill Chappell
Bill Chappell is a writer and editor on the News Desk in the heart of NPR's newsroom in Washington, D.C.