The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) said in a determination letter that the defense contractor’s feeble reaction to a buildup of threats against black employees at a Meridian, Mississippi plant clearly wasn’t enough to prevent a mass shooting there, Dow Jones reported. An employee shot 14 people there last summer, killing six coworkers.
The company’s response to prior racially motivated threats was “inadequate and permitted the racially charged atmosphere to grow in intensity, culminating in the shooting.” The EEOC said its ruling was in response to charges filed by the family of Lynette McCall, one of those killed in the July 8, 2003, shooting.
Doug Williams harassed black workers “through racially hostile, threatening and demeaning comments” from December 2001 until the shooting, according to the report. Six of the victims died, and 12 of the victims were black. Williams eventually committed suicide.
The EEOC found that over a two-year period, Williams had threatened and made demeaning comments to his African-American coworkers. According to the commission, Lockheed was aware of the severity of the racially charged environment created by Williams, who had threatened to kill African-American coworkers
“While we disagree with the Jackson EEOC office’s determination in these matters, it would be inappropriate for us to comment because of the pending litigation related to the Meridian tragedy,” Lockheed spokesman Joe Strout told Dow Jones. “Lockheed Martin has been cleared of responsibility for this incident by state and federal authorities, and is confident that the same conclusion will be reached by the court.”