On Monday, the Des Moines Register reported that a Black John Deere employee in Iowa has filed a lawsuit alleging a culture of racism and retaliation on the job.
“Johnnie Ray Hogan III, who has worked at John Deere Des Moines Works in Ankeny since 2010, said many employees called him ‘the angry black man’ and refused to associate with him once he complained about how they treated him, according to a lawsuit filed in Polk County District Court in late June,” reported Tyler Jett. “He also alleged that his managers scrutinized his work more.”
“According to the lawsuit, Hogan’s supervisor in the shipping department called him into her office and showed him a picture of a biracial baby. She allegedly asked him, ‘Which one of your cousins or homies got ahold of my baby?'” said the report.
“In March 2020, according to the lawsuit, a co-worker asked Hogan to teach him how to make cornbread because his wife ‘really likes black people cornbread.’ Hogan said that he told a civil rights liaison about his co-workers’ racist comments in November 2020. But, according to the lawsuit, ‘nothing happened as a result,'” the report continued. “A month later, Hogan’s team leader allegedly threatened him, saying he ‘needed to be chained to a dock.’ That same day, according to the lawsuit, a co-worker told Hogan that no one would be able to find him if someone threw him into a box filled with black machine parts.”
By 2021, when his coworkers allegedly started calling him “boy” and using racial slurs, Hogan reached out to the head of labor relations, at which point one of his supervisors was fired. “Hogan said he felt isolated afterward, with co-workers and supervisors avoiding him,” said the report. “He alleged that one supervisor walked away from him whenever he tried to talk to her. Other Deere employees said they would only talk to Hogan with a witness present, according to the lawsuit.”
This comes as other high-profile companies around the country are facing scrutiny for their racial cultures. Most prominently, electric vehicle manufacturer Tesla is being sued by Black employees alleging racist abuse, and California regulators are separately investigating the matter.