A Montgomery County man filed a federal lawsuit, claiming discrimination and retaliation under the Civil Rights Act of 1964 against the Hankook tire manufacturing plant in Clarksville.
Derrick Osborne, who was hired as a maintenance technician at Hankook in July 2018, said he experienced racist encounters with a supervisor at the facility.
About one year after he began his employment, Osborne, who is Black, said he, “was subjected to increased harassment and discrimination” by Hankook employees, including, but not limited to, its supervisors and management.
Osborne “asserts that he was treated poorly and received disparate treatment as compared to Caucasian-American employees who were similarly situated,” the lawsuit said.
In addition, the complaint said after one of his supervisors made racist comments and joked in his presence, Osborne attempted to keep things professional, which led to the supervisor threatening his job and position.
Attempted meetings with additional Hankook supervisors on the matter went ignored, according to the suit.
Osborne said he was fired Sept. 12, 2019, following disciplinary action he received after he was asked about a job task he had already completed.
Osborne claims his firing was based upon his race, in violation of the Tennessee Human Rights Act and also Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
He further alleges he was disciplined and fired in retaliation for reporting the discrimination and harassment acts that took place on the job.
The complaint indicated Osborne is entitled to compensation for incidental damages, attorney’s fees, compensation for emotional distress, humiliation, mental anguish, embarrassment and also pain and suffering.
Osborne asks the court for $200,000 and additional expenses that involve punitive damages to be determined.
The complaint was initially filed in Montgomery County circuit court in July, with the claims of violating the Tennessee Human Rights Act and negligence under Tennessee common law.
In November, after receiving a notice of right to sue from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Osborne filed a motion to amend the complaint to add the claims of discrimination and retaliation based on the Civil Rights Act.
The case was filed Dec. 9 in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee Nashville.
In response to the complaint, a Hankook spokesperson issued a statement via email to Main Street Clarksville.
“While Hankook does not comment on pending litigation, we take all allegations of inappropriate behavior very seriously and take appropriate action,” the statement said. “We are committed to promoting diversity and ensuring equal opportunity and fair treatment.”