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GM CEO visits Toledo plant where alleged racism occurred



"David Caldwell, GM's corporate relations manager, said:" The meetings with employees covered regular business issues, as well as workplace behavior and culture issues. " "This included reaffirming the company's strong commitment to a safe, open and inclusive workplace with zero tolerance for intimidating or intolerant behavior."

"It was an opportunity to communicate that all incidents reports are taken seriously and fully investigated". Caldwell said. "Also, the leaders shared their belief in the workforce – that the bad actions of one or some do not represent the whole team or the surrounding community."

Plant shift supervisors Marcus Boyd and Derrick Brooks, who worked different ”

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Boyd said that threats and racial slurs were a regular part of working life there.

Brooks said he found a noose hanging in the area where he worked. As the only black worker in that space on his shift, he believed it was meant to intimidate him.

Boyd quit his job at GM after alleging his life was threatened while working there. He said the guards had to watch him come in and out of the plant for his own protection. Boyd told CNN on Monday night he was glad Barra made the trip but said it should have happened before the situation has gone so far

"I commend GM leadership for coming to Toledo Powertrain today. The workers are worth it. are: Why did it go this far? Why did it take multiple incidents over years before it was addressed? " Boyd said. "Why did I have to leave my career because of [of] the racial hostility in the work environment? Why was it not taken seriously when these incidents were reported repeatedly and again? The diversity and inclusiveness should be more than a general statement."

Attorney Michelle Vocht, an attorney for more than a half-dozen clients who sued GM over racial discrimination and harassment, acknowledged the step GM was taking with the plant visit.

"It's about time the top of GM has started to recognize that there is a problem." Mary Barra's CEO makes an appearance a start, but GM needs to do much more than that, "Vocht said.

Vocht said she believes GM should have done more initially.

"They have supposedly had a zero tolerance policy when nooses were hung, they had zero tolerance when African-Americans were suffering in the Zero tolerance, "Vocht said.

The lawsuit filed by several current and former GM employees, detailed allegations of a workplace. where the black supervisors were denounced as "boy" and ignored by their subordinates, and where black employees were called "monkey" or told to "go back to Africa."

 Marcus Boyd says he has encountered a rassically hostile environment at GM and is still in the forefront of the White House. suing the company.

The lawsuit said the company allowed a "underlying atmosphere of violent racial hat and bullying."

GM declined

After the story gained traction in social media, with many comments criticizing GM, the company released another statement.

After the story gained traction in social media, with many comments criticizing GM, the company released another statement. "We are outraged that anyone would be subjected to racist behavior. We have zero tolerance for discrimination – this is not who we are. We are working to drive this out of our workplaces.

 Darlene Sweeney-Newbern, of the Ohio Civil Rights Commission, says that the case against GM was among the worst they've seen.

Other Toledo plant workers filed complaints with the Ohio Civil Rights Commission. The commission, which enforces state laws against discrimination, announced the findings of a nine-month investigation last March: GM did allow a racially hostile environment. GM appealed the decision, but it was upheld.

Darlene Sweeney-Newbern, the commission's director of regional operations, told CNN that racist behavior was so prevalent at Toledo's Powertrain, the GM plant, that she would rank it among the worst cases her team has seen. Sweeney-Newbern said in a statement after Barra's trip to the plant said that the commission found that it was "a big deal of the deal."

"More likely than not, General Motors management failed to act with adequate speed and seriousness when the reprehensible acts of discrimination took place in their Toledo plant."

"We hope that this increased emphasis on anti-discrimination from GM CEO will result in A more serious and deliberate effort to stamp out discrimination going forward, "she said.

 GM responds to backlash after racism allegations:" This is not who we are. "

General Motors is also offering a $ 25,000 reward for information about alleged nooses and "whites-only" signs at the plant and has said the company has continued to investigate the allegations. [19659002] In a letter to GM's vice president of North America manufacturing and labor relations, Toledo Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz said he was pleased to know the actions being taken to address claims. These actions included an investigation into the situation, retraining of human resources professionals and employees on appropriate responses to discrimination allegations and a two-year workplace culture survey with follow-up action plan to respond to results.

He also said GM is taking a survey its workforce is to sort out the attitude and feelings of employees to determine if culture can be improved. The company is investing time and resources in improving the culture;

CNN's Carolyn Sung contributed to this report.


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