The Boeing Co. has resolved three federal lawsuits brought this year by former employees who alleged retaliation for reporting racism at the North Charleston plane-making campus.
Attorneys for the plaintiffs and the airframer filed documents to dismiss the cases last week. While that generally means the parties have reached a settlement, neither side would confirm a deal.
More than 6,000 Boeing employees and contractors work at the plane-making operation at Charleston International Airport.
Ben Mabry, the Columbia attorney who represented each of the plaintiffs, declined to comment on the cases. Boeing South Carolina spokeswoman Candy Eslinger maintained that the lawsuits were frivolous.
“When these cases were filed, we said they lacked merit, and they did, which is why they were resolved so quickly,” Eslinger said in an emailed statement.
“We abhor discrimination, harassment, and retaliation in any form,” she continued. “Anyone who wants to have a career at Boeing South Carolina is fully expected to adhere to our guiding principle of creating an environment free from discrimination and harassment.”
Allen Adgerson of Orangeburg County was the first to sue Boeing in January. Adgerson, who is black, alleged that white employees “talked about lynching and burning black people” and “referred to blacks as monkeys.”
In court papers, Boeing maintained that he was terminated in February 2011 because he put a co-worker in a “choke hold.”
Dorchester County resident Paulette Gilmore sued in April. She alleged “regular use of the ‘N’ word by white co-workers” and claimed she was barred from using a particular break room because it was “reserved” for white employees. Gilmore was fired for “excessive absences” in March 2011, according to her suit, but she alleged the real reason was her complaints.
Otis Cotton Sr. was the third to sue, in June. His claims echoed Adgerson’s and Gilmore’s, including that a co-worker sang about “putting a rope around the neck of a black person and hanging him from a tree.”
Cotton claimed he complained to management, but that brought only “punitive and unsavory” tasks, so he felt “compelled” to quit in February 2010.
Reach Brendan Kearney at 937-5906 and follow him on Twitter at @kearney_brendan
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