TN Racial Discrimination Case Combines Blacks and Whites

September 30, 2005 ( - Lawyers representing African American plaintiffs in their racial discrimination claims against the Whirlpool Corp. have taken the unusual step of adding white plaintiffs as well.

The federal court lawsuit that has 10 African American and 10 whites as named plaintiffs, alleges that while the African American employees may have been the target of discrimination at Whirlpool’s LaVergne, Tennessee plant, the whites have a right to also work in an environment free of racial hostility, the National Law Journal reported.

The white workers first stepped forward only to support their African-American colleagues who had initially filed suit in federal court in Tennessee in December 2003, lead plaintiff lawyer David Sanford told the Law Journal. But, as they reported their experiences to the lawyers, it became obvious that the white employees had their own claims, Sanford added. “A lot of whites may not realize that they have a right to work in an environment that is free of racial hostility,” he said.

Whirlpool’s media relations manager, Steve Duffy, sent a prepared company statement denying the allegations.

“The claims made in this lawsuit have already been investigated thoroughly, found to be without merit, and dismissed by the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission,” the statement read, according to the Law Journal. The company also said that it intends to defend itself, asserting that “we do not tolerate bias or discrimination of any kind.”