Ronberto Collins claims he was fired for reporting racism at Diamond Pet Foods in Lathrop.
LATHROP, Calif. - Allegations of rampant racism at Diamond Pet Foods in Lathrop sparked a federal lawsuit by three African American workers who claim they were fired for trying to report the problem.
Ronberto Collins says his supervisor and co-workers used the N-word on the job and specifically targeted the three employees.
"It was bad, I mean like daily, almost daily in the breakroom, changing room," said Collins.
Collins said the problem was so bad, he secretly tape recorded it to prove his point.
One of the recordings apparently captures a fellow employee saying: "I'm a mother f---- leader, n-----, not a f----- follower!"
Collins is now part of a federal lawsuit against the San Joaquin County pet food manufacturing company and Volt Temp Agency.
He says he tried to report the racial comments multiple times--both verbally and in writing.
"I complained to one of the supervisors and he was like, 'this is part of the job'," said Collins.
Collins claimed he was ultimately fired for reporting the problem.
"We're supposed to be protected by the law. If I make a complaint about discrimination going on, I don't think we should be terminated because of it," said Collins.
Collins says the racial slurs allegedly by supervisors and employees created an extremely hostile work environment.
"They laughed about it and called me the N-word during that time. Hey, this is a dumb a-s-s n----," said Collins. "I don't care what race you are. Who wants to go into a hostile work environment?"
He went onto say, "I couldn't believe it. I was like 'Wow! Is this the 1800s or something?' It was that bad."
Diamond Pet Foods offered a statement in response to the complaint and lawsuit:
"We take these allegations very seriously and there is an ongoing investigation into this issue. If any employees are found in violation of Diamond policies concerning racial discrimination they will be disciplined accordingly."
Meanwhile, Collins' attorney explains the motive for the federal lawsuit.
"We want to send a signal that this is not ok," said Bryan McCormick. "We want the discrimination to stop."
The attorney says his clients suffered humiliation as well as mental, emotional, and physical distress. They're seeking unspecified damages.
By Suzanne Phan, email@example.com