published Friday, June 6th, 2014

Memphis supervisor fired, accused of saying microwave, water fountain were for 'whites only'

Antonio Harris, right, thought no one would believe the kind of racial slurs that his supervisor at Atkinson Cotton Warehouse was making, so he decided he would start recording him on his cellphone.
Antonio Harris, right, thought no one would believe the kind of racial slurs that his supervisor at Atkinson Cotton Warehouse was making, so he decided he would start recording him on his cellphone.

MEMPHIS — A contractor has fired a cotton warehouse supervisor in Memphis after two black employees accused him of saying that a microwave and a water fountain were for "whites only."

Federal Compress said the Atkinson Cotton Warehouse supervisor was removed from the warehouse and is no longer employed by the company, according to a statement obtained Thursday by The Associated Press. Federal Compress provides workers for the warehouse.

According to WMC-TV, Antonio Harris and Mario Mangrum said they filed racial discrimination complaints with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against the supervisor, who was not named by Federal Compress.

The EEOC does not make discrimination complaints public.

"He didn't use the N-word, but he used the word 'monkey' a lot," Mangrum told the TV station.

Harris recorded the supervisor, who said, "I need to put a sign here that says 'White People Only'" on a water fountain.

Harris then asked the supervisor what would be done if he were caught drinking from the fountain.

"That's when we hang you," the supervisor said, according to the audio recording, which was obtained by the television station.

Harris said he also recorded the man saying he could not use the microwave because it was "whites only."

"It disturbed me mentally," Harris said of the comments.

Federal Compress said it has a zero-tolerance policy that prohibits any form of racial or other discriminatory conduct or language at work.

The owner of the warehouse, E.W. Atkinson, did not return a call seeking comment. The AP could not immediately locate Harris or Mangrum by phone or at addresses listed for them.

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