08 29 2014
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A Black employee who found a noose over his workstation in a predominantly Latino company has won a full-time job and a financial settlement from his employers, the Oregon Attorney General's office announced this week.

Xavier Perry's discrimination complaint against Valmont Industries and Barrett Business Services – which was resolved by the state through a mediation process – also resulted in new safeguards against racial discrimination at the companies, and anti-discrimination trainings for employees there by the Bureau of Labor and Industries Technical Assistance Program.

Tualatin-based Valmont Industries, Inc., is a steel galvanizing plant, and Barrett Business Services, Inc., is a temporary employment agency.

According to the complaint, which was investigated and mediated by Assistant Attorney General Diane Sykes, Perry was physically pushed around by a Latino co-worker at the steel plant.

He registered a complaint and requested transfer to another work station, but state officials say the companies turned him down.

Perry objected further to his treatment, which he charged was based on his race and national origin – as an African American born in the United States — and a noose was hung over his desk.

State officials say Perry stopped coming to work after the incident, and the noose stayed over his desk until a Barrett company manager took it down.

Afterwards, according to the Attorney General's office, neither company contacted Perry about the incident to investigate the allegations, nor offered to return him to work.

No one ever bothered to find out who exactly hung the noose, which was a key point in the Attorney General's office finding of fault with Valmont and Barrett, according to spokesman Tony Green.

"We focused on the fact that no investigation was done – because when something like that happens, there are appropriate responses," Green said. "Certainly we don't get a lot of cases with nooses – that's a particularly threatening symbol for someone who's African American."

As a result of the state's mediation, Perry will receive monetary damages, a permanent full-time job with Valmont Industries, anti-retaliation protections, a positive letter of reference from both Valmont and Barrett Business Services, and a specific contact person at the state to contact in case of further workplace discrimination.

Also, as a result of the mediation, both companies have agreed to participate in anti-discrimination trainings.

Green said Oregon workers who believe they are the victims of workplace discrimination can file grievances through the state Department of Justice and through the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industry.

"I would encourage people to report it to both, it will get looked into," he said.

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