Virginia Department of Transportation to be sued by former employee for displaying nooses
When Keith Smith’s temporary agency assigned him to work at VDOT in November he was excited to have a job, especially around the holidays.
But that excitement quickly changed when he saw a noose hanging behind his supervisor’s desk.
Smith said he was intimidated and felt threatened by the noose.
“Something that’s unusual that I’ve never seen before,” he said.
Smith said he asked why the noose was there but didn’t get a reasonable explanation.
Three weeks later he noticed a second noose on the wall of a different supervisor and said he was indirectly threatened.
That’s when Smith quit, filing a complaint with VDOT.
“A bunch of wild things were going through my head,” he said. “I basically just concluded to let the job go. I feared for my life.”
10 On Your Side contacted VDOT about the allegations and got this response.
“VDOT received a complaint from a contract employee alleging workplace harassment based on race. The Civil Rights Division investigated the complaint and the VDOT employees involved were disciplined according to the Commonwealth of Virginia’s Department of Human Resources Standards of Conduct Policy.”
Smith said he got a letter from VDOT in March going into much more detail.
The letter states that two nooses were turned over to the agency and that workplace harassment did occur.
On Monday, 10 On Your Side asked VDOT if the letter was authentic but we were told it’s a personnel matter and the agency wouldn’t comment any further.
Smith said he filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission but they decided not to pursue the case.
Now he’s going to court, filing a discrimination lawsuit against VDOT and his two former supervisors.
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