GREENSBURG - Honda Manufacturing of Indiana has officially denied a former employee’s allegations that it engaged in and tolerated racial discrimination.
The former employee, Clifford W. Holder, an African American, filed a lawsuit Jan. 30, alleging repeated incidents of discrimination against African Americans. Honda on Thursday filed an official response in U.S. District Court in Indianapolis.
Holder, who joined Honda in 2008 and worked as an associate relations administrator, alleged the company discriminated by passing over African Americans for promotion to the benefit of white employees, punishing African American employees more harshly for inappropriate behavior than white employees and giving white employees “a slap on the wrist” for racially offensive comments.
Honda said in its response filed Thursday that it denies those allegations.
Holder also wrote in his lawsuit that “racially offensive graffiti directed at African Americans routinely appeared in the men’s restrooms” and that Honda removed the graffiti but took no actions to prevent a reoccurrence. Examples of the graffiti listed in the lawsuit include highly charged language, limericks and threats to kill, shoot and hang.
Honda said that such comments, or similar ones, appeared in restrooms, but that it removed the graffiti and denied Holder’s allegation that it took no other actions.
Honda said that “at all times (it) exercised reasonable care to prevent and correct promptly any alleged harassing behavior.”
According to the lawsuit, Holder suffered damages because he “was subjected to a hostile work environment based upon race (and that) the workplace conditions were severe and pervasive enough to alter the terms and conditions of employment.”
Holder has requested a jury trial and is seeking compensatory and punitive damages. Holder’s attorney, Adam Lenkowsky, with Indianapolis-based Roberts & Bishop, declined to provide details about how much Holder is seeking.
Honda said it denies all those allegations and that Holder is not entitled to damages.