Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Local Racism?

We're publishing a guest commentary today. We usually avoid criticism of private industries, but this particular incident should be of concern to each of us. We have redacted the name of the supervisor accused of such egregious racism:
I do not know whether this story is of interest to you or your readers. I, however, find it repulsive and hard to believe in this day in age, and I think it deserves to be known.
I have a family member who works at a company called Supreme Beverage on Avalon Avenue in Muscle Shoals. The company is a local distribution center of beer and other beverages such as Sam Adams, Miller, Coors, Red Bull, and more recently, a newly acquired account with the local brewery Singing River Brewery. 
A short time ago, the branch manager, "John Doe", was put on leave for approximately one week in the company's response to comments he made to one of his African American employees, in which he said, "When I was your age, they used to hang people like you."  These comments offended the employees and made them uncomfortable to work with Mr. Doe. The corporate offices put Mr. Doe on leave after human resources became involved. During that week, the corporate employees visited the branch, discussed the comments with the employee affected, and also witnesses to the events.
John Doe himself even admitted to making these comments in his own interview. Yet a week later, he was brought back to work, apparently with no consequences. What does that tell your employees? That racism is tolerated at this company? That they value you as a worker? Corporate employees, once Doe was brought back to work, then brought in the African American employee that had been offended and asked him, in the same room where Doe, his boss, was sitting, if he would feel uncomfortable working with Doe again. To which he replied yes, he would be uncomfortable. And yet, Doe was brought back. Giving no reason or explanation to the branch employees to the conclusions of this matter, he remains the branch manager at Supreme Beverage. A few weeks following this meeting, the employee in question called the Human Resources department, stating that he was continually uncomfortable working with Doe, yet was told Human Resources was no longer involved in the situation.
What advocate is there for the workers of this company? Will racism be tolerated, even in this day in age? I should also mention that Doe daily sells out of date beer to local stores and companies, which contributes to keeping his branch profitable. Perhaps it is the profitability of his branch that keeps Doe in good graces with corporate offices.
I found the injustice of this situation alarming, and should not be tolerated.
Sadly, we don't believe this one manager or one company is alone in this type of situation. We welcome any rebuttals.

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