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Reported by Kacie Whaley
A New Jersey paint company, Benjamin Moore & Co., is being sued on the basis of racial discrimination claims made by a man who was fired by the company in March 2014.
Clinton Tucker, a 34-year-old gay, black man who managed Benjamin Moore’s online store, believes that the paint company mockingly named two of their paint colors after him, treated him unfairly compared to his white coworkers, and unlawfully fired him. Tucker said he first suspected the company was mocking him when he created a new line of paint colors and the company named one color ‘Tucker Chocolate,’ according to The Jamestown Sun.
Benjamin Moore already had a color named ‘Clinton Brown,’ so when a coworker pointed out to Tucker that the colors contained his first and last name, he said he “found it to be repulsive,” the complaint says.
“Coupled with ‘Tucker Chocolate,’ it was racially offensive and demeaning to Clinton Tucker,” the complaint continues.
Tucker also takes issue with another company color, ‘Confederate Red.’ The color’s name seems to hint at the Confederacy of the Civil War, which fought for the enslavement of black people in America.
According to Tucker, he complained to management about the colors’ names, but no action was ever taken, and the colors are still being sold online and in Benjamin Moore stores.
The lawsuit’s claim also states that the company has a “hostile” work environment and treats minorities unfairly. The claim states that there are only about 10 black employees at Benjamin Moore’s New Jersey headquarters, and only one homosëxual. “It was clear…that he was not part of the traditional culture of the company,” the claim states.
The suit also claims that Tucker’s request to take off of work on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day to celebrate was ignored by his boss.
“This request was ignored and [the director of digital marketing] just mockingly smirked at the plaintiff on Martin Luther King holiday.”
Tucker said that although he has nine years of experience working in online retail marketing, he was overlooked for promotions while his white colleagues moved up in the company. He said he was eventually demoted, and then fired “unlawfully” in March, after two years of working for the company.
Benjamin Moore’s website describes ‘Tucker Chocolate’ as “capturing the 1798 color requested by St. George Tucker for his home facing Courthouse Green.” They describe ‘Confederate Red’ as a “timeless and enduring classic” shade of red, and ‘Clinton Brown’ as a “chocolate candy bar brown.”
The paint company has yet to issue a statement regarding the lawsuit.