LI man files $1M lawsuit over noose found in company lunchroom

Maya Rajamani
July 09, 2020 - 6:18 pm

NEW YORK (1010 WINS) -- A Black Long Island man faced retaliation after he found a noose in the lunchroom at his workplace — and the local police department failed to investigate the incident thoroughly, a new lawsuit claims.

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George Richards, who lives in Suffolk County, started working at United Riverhead Terminal Inc., a petroleum storage and distribution facility, in 2004, according to a lawsuit he filed against the company, the Town of Riverhead and the Riverhead Police Department.

In November 2015, Richards walked into the company’s lunchroom and found a noose on a coat hanger, the lawsuit charges.

“I’m the only Black African-American person working for the company, for the past seven or eight years,” Richards told 1010 WINS’ Roger Stern. “What I saw was just horrifying to me.”

Richards reported the incident to the company and filed a harassment charge with the Riverhead Police Department, but the department “failed to properly investigate the matter and failed to properly prosecute those that engaged in unlawful and criminal behavior,” the lawsuit alleges. 

After Richards complained to his company, meanwhile, he “was assigned duties below his work grade that his white counterparts were not assigned to perform,” the suit claims. 

He was also “made the butt of jokes and referred to in derogatory, demeaning and stereotypical ways,” according to the suit. 

“(Richards) was continuously subjected to a hostile work environment, which caused him to suffer emotional distress, fear for his safety and anxiety,” the suit says. 

The lawsuit seeks at least $1 million in damages and other costs. The Town of Riverhead declined to comment on the pending litigation, but filed a motion to dismiss the case. 

1010 WINS has also reached out to United Riverhead Terminal Inc. for comment on the suit.