Man says he was fired from UPS after complaining about racial remark
Posted December 12, 2014
Raleigh, N.C. — A UPS employee in Raleigh says he was fired in retaliation after admonishing his supervisor for making a racially insensitive remark.
Joshua Boyd, 22, said Friday that he had worked only three weeks at the UPS Customer Center, loading boxes onto trucks, when the encounter with his boss happened Tuesday.
As the two worked side by side, Boyd eyed the supervisor’s chocolate bar.
“I said, ‘Hey man!’” Boyd recalled. “I look at him, and he looks back at me and says, ‘Yeah, I’ll bring you down like they did that guy in New York.’”
Boyd said he didn’t appreciate the reference to Eric Garner, a black man who died after being placed in a chokehold by a white police officer in Staten Island, N.Y. A grand jury’s decision not to indict the officer resulted in nationwide protests, including in the Triangle.
“I quickly addressed it, so I said, ‘Hey man, that’s not funny. Can you not joke on that particular matter,” said Boyd, who is black.
He said the supervisor, who is white, immediately apologized. But Boyd said the supervisor laughed about the chokehold joke two more times to other employees.
Boyd said he felt like he was in a hostile work environment, so he went home.
He returned the next day and had a meeting with his supervisor’s boss. He said he was told to return Thursday and meet with Human Resources personnel, who fired him.
Boyd said he did not overreact to the remark.
“If I ask you not to say it one time, firmly – I didn’t joke back and smile and say, ‘Hey man, don’t say that again.’ I looked at you straight and asked you not to say that again,” he said.
He said UPS cut him loose “to protect their employees.”
A spokesman for the company released the following statement about the allegations:
“We take all claims of this nature seriously and will investigate this claim and take appropriate action based on the outcome. We have a workplace violence prevention policy, and UPS is committed to a safe working environment, free of threats, intimidation and physical harm. All employees have a right to work in a safe environment and share a responsibility for each other’s safety. UPS has adopted a policy of zero tolerance for violence or harassment in the workplace.”
Boyd said he plans to take his complaint to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.