A million dollar verdict was the only good thing to come of Carlotta Freeman’s time at the Whirlpool plant in La Vergne, TN. This was the award from Federal judge John T. Nixon at the conclusion of her suit against the company for racial and sexual harassment.
Freeman claimed that Willie Baker, a white male co-worker, repeatedly made lewd and inappropriate comments and gestures in the plant and also in the break room. Her complaints to superiors largely fell on deaf ears. Despite assurances that something would be done, an investigation was never started and the supervisor never spoke with Baker. It was not until Freeman and another African-American woman, Chinica Lillard, complained about racial slurs to Kim Wheeler, a white female co-worker, that something finally started to happen. Unfortunately what happened was the supervisor advising the women to ignore Baker and suggesting Freeman just go ahead and have sex with Baker so he’d leave her alone.
The situation escalated to the point where Baker physically assaulted Freeman on the factory floor, pushing her into the moving assembly line causing her to be struck in the head by air conditioners moving down the line and throwing a steel valve at both Freeman and Lillard who had rescued Freeman from the moving line. Baker was fired for his part in the assault and Freeman returned the next day to take an open ended leave of absence. Freeman has subsequently been diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from her experiences. She has become a reclusive introvert, rarely leaving her home as a result of her ordeal.
The court stated that Whirlpool essentially did nothing about the ongoing complaints lodged by Freeman against Baker. Nixon found that every level of management in the now defunct plant failed to protect Carlotta Freeman in her place of work.
If you feel that you have been a victim of sexual harassment, please feel free to contact our office.