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ThyssenKrupp denies racism allegation in US
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Monday, 06 Feb 2012
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The Chicago Tribune reported that as it prepares to make Chicago its North American headquarters, the German based ThyssenKrupp manufacturing company is facing allegations that company supervisors in the city created a hostile and intimidating work environment for an African American employee.

According to a November finding by the state Department of Human Rights, a superintendent at ThyssenKrupp used the N word routinely around African American sales representative Mr Montrelle Reese.

Another supervisor applied brown make up to his face to make his skin tone darker during a skit at a sales conference in Indianapolis, according to the report, which concluded that there was substantial evidence that Mr Reese was harassed because of his race. Though the supervisor later claimed he was impersonating a rapper of Asian descent from the musical group Linkin Park, the report states that the skin darkening showed the company fosters an environment of accepted racial intolerance.

Mr Reese also alleged other salespeople made racially offensive comments and jokes about the South Side of Chicago, which was part of Mr Reese's sales territory for the company that makes elevators, auto components and carbon steel.

According to Mr Reese's attorney Mr Stephen Potts, Mr Reese, who worked for ThyssenKrupp from 2007 to 2010, plans to use the Department of Human Rights report as the basis of a lawsuit against the company. Mr Potts said that "He's devastated about this treatment."

Mr Brian Jackson, an attorney for ThyssenKrupp, dismissed the allegations, arguing that the state's report does not mean a law has been violated. He said that "We look forward to having our day in court."

Last week, Mayor Mr Rahm Emanuel joined ThyssenKrupp officials to announce that the company will locate its regional headquarters in Chicago, bringing 100 additional jobs to the city. ThyssenKrupp employs about 1,400 people in Illinois.

Responding to the state's findings, Ms Sarah Hamilton, a mayoral spokeswoman said that the administration has no tolerance for prejudice. She added that "Behavior of the sort alleged in the complaint has absolutely no place in the city of Chicago or anywhere."

Mr Jim Riegler, executive vice president of human resources for ThyssenKrupp Elevator, said that ThyssenKrupp is dedicated to providing a discrimination free work environment for our employees and to aggressively pursuing and investigating any and all claims of improper or illegal conduct within the organization.

(Sourced from Chicago Tribune)

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