A black former warehouse worker for a newsstand chain is suing his ex-employer, claiming he was forced to quit after enduring months of racially related jokes and comments from co-workers and his supervisor.
Ahmad Benson filed the lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court against Hudson News, which sells magazines, snacks and drinks at such places as Los Angeles International Airport, which the plaintiff serviced while working at a warehouse in Carson from May 20l4 until February.
The suit filed Monday alleges harassment, retaliation, failure to prevent discrimination and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Benson is seeking unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.
A Hudson News representative did not immediately reply to a request for comment.
According to the lawsuit, Benson’s supervisor did nothing to stop two co- workers from making racial taunts against him and even uttered some offensive remarks herself.
“It was common for plaintiff’s supervisor to address him as (N—a,)” the suit alleges.
Shortly after Benson was hired, he says he was questioned about his ownership of a 2009 Mercedes-Benz C300.
According to his lawsuit, his supervisor asked him, “Are you selling drugs? There is no way a black man can have a car like that if he is not selling drugs.”
The alleged harassment escalated from comments about his car to Benson’s African ethnicity and the fact that he lived for many years in Ghana, his suit alleges.
The supervisor asked Benson, “When you were in Africa, would you fight over food with the lions because there isn’t any food?,” according to his lawsuit.
He alleges the supervisor also told the other employees, “Be careful, Ahmad came from Africa and he might give you Ebola.”
With his boss present, other Hudson News employees frequently referred to blacks as “N—as” and said they “like eating chicken, cornbread, greens and watermelon,” the suit states.
Benson’s supervisor would laugh and mock Benson instead of becoming upset at the racial remarks, the suit alleges. The boss also chuckled when another Hudson employee called the plaintiff a “black Somali pirate,” the suit states.
A co-worker asked Benson if he “ran around bull-naked and lived up a tree like a monkey,” and yet another said Africans “eat their own and practice cannibalism when there was no food,” according to his complaint.
When Benson asked his supervisor to put a stop to the taunts, she replied, “Everyone is a little racist,” according to the lawsuit, which alleges some of the co-workers also made sexually oriented remarks toward Benson.
— City News Service
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