Racial harassment details revealed in lawsuit against Lake Orion trucking company

A racial profiling and harassment lawsuit was filed by former Black employees of a Lake Orion trucking company.

Environmental Wood Solutions is being sued by the four former employees with allegations of rampant racial harassment, lower pay based on race, and in some cases, sabotaging of trucks. The suit was filed last summer, bringing the documented details to light.

A few of the harassment detailed in the suit by Darryl Morgan, Jesus Gillette, James Washington, and Ralpheal Hampton included:

  • Frequent use of the n-word by white employees.
  • White employees frequently referring to Black employees as "Forest Monkeys."
  • Sub-par truck repairs are referred to as "n-word-rigged."
  • One of the company's owners, Joseph Corrigan, stated he hated all of "the n-word drivers" in Detroit.
  • One of the white workers, Ricky Glass, put a note on the communal microwave that said "n-words will be n-words."
  • Being given lower quality trucks than fellow white workers, and had to wait for repairs by mechanics longer than their white counterparts.
  • Being paid less, as well as given fewer hours – resulting in less pay than white co-workers.

Legal documents in the suit by the former workers claim that not only did the company usually never take any disciplinary action after incidents of harassment were brought forward, but that they retaliated against, with measures like not being able to take lunch breaks, having work hours reduced and being passed up for annual raises.

Morgan claims Corrigan even threatened him if legal action was ever brought forward, saying "things would not end well for him."

In December of 2023, former workers led a protest outside the Detroit offices of Environmental Wood Solutions.

Among Hampton's documented claims were that employees were loosening his truck tires' lug nuts, taking air out of his tires, and "sabotaging his truck in other ways to make it inoperable."

The former workers have not named a sum in damages, rather requesting that the court or jury determine the amount.

On Feb. 29, after published reports first by the Detroit Free Press, the Environmental Wood Solutions released a statement:

"At EWS, our company's strength comes from the diverse backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives of our team members. We are disappointed by the baseless allegations made by a few former employees, which we will rigorously defend ourselves against.

"Our commitment to a safe and respectful workplace is unwavering. Our team members have helped us create a culture we are proud of, founded on equality, inclusivity, and respect for everyone.

"We take all allegations of discrimination and harassment seriously and have comprehensive reporting and investigative procedures to address them promptly."