Olathe rock quarry workers discussed white supremacy, used racial slurs, lawsuit says

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A Kansas City, Kansas, man is suing his former employer after he said his complaints were dismissed regarding co-workers using racial epithets and making references to white supremacist groups at the Olathe rock quarry company where he worked.

The plaintiff, Norris Scott, claims his former employer, HAMM Companies, did not address the racist behavior he experienced from early September to mid-November this year.

A lawsuit filed in Johnson County District Court Dec. 2 indicated Scott was called “bubba,” despite him asking others not to, and was subjected to jokes about his race. Scott was allegedly one of few Black employees at the business.

During his first week at HAMM Companies, Scott was trained by an employee referred to in court documents as “Mr. Rogers.” Scott claims Rogers told him he had previously worked at the Department of Corrections for 20 years, and during that time, he had dealt with many “Blacks,” whom he referred to as “animals.”

Rogers also told Scott, while looking directly at him, that his brother was a high-ranking member of a white supremacist group, the Aryan Brotherhood, according to the documents.

Scott encountered another employee who would swear at him and intimidate him, but after lodging complaints, he was allegedly told by upper management, “Things will work out, bubba.”

When problems with the production line and equipment arose, Scott was allegedly excluded from discussions aimed at diagnosing the problems and told to “grab a shovel and go clean the catwalk.” However, white employees who were hired around the same time as Scott were not excluded from problem-solving conversations, according to court documents.

When complimenting one of his coworkers, whom the lawsuit refers to as “Mr. Licks,” on his new haircut, Scott was told by Licks, “Thank you, I just joined the skinheads’ party.” After complaining, someone in upper management allegedly told Scott that Licks “treats everyone the same way. Just deal with it.”

The lawsuit alleges none of the employees responsible for the derogatory treatment of Scott were disciplined or even “talked to,” despite Scott voicing his concerns. As a result, the treatment continued, and Scott contends he continued to feel harassed and nitpicked. Employees used racial epithets and made racist remarks frequently, according to court documents.

On one occasion, a manager allegedly told Scott he realized Scott was subjected to harassment because he could hear it over the walkie-talkie.

Scott was allegedly fired after complaining to upper management repeatedly over the two-and-a-half months he worked at HAMM Companies. Court documents allege Scott was told upon termination, “It just seems to me that you are not happy here. You know, Mr. Scott, the mining industry is not for everyone. Some people just don’t fit in.”

Scott is suing the company for discrimination based on race and color, retaliation and hostile work environment. He is represented by attorney Marcos Barbosa.

HAMM Companies did not respond to The Star’s requests for comment.