Chemist sues chemical plant over racial harassment claims

BAYPORT, Texas (KTRK) -- As the country is split by racism, a chemist, who came to America for a better life, claims his co-workers were inspired by President Trump to make his life a living hell.

Taye Falobi says his colleagues at the Bayport plant of Lubrizol, a multi-billion dollar chemical company headquartered in Ohio, humiliated him with photos, insults and even vandalism to his work clothing.

In a lawsuit filed this week, Falobi is alleging the company knew about racially-based harassment and a hostile work environment and did nothing.

Photographs of Falobi's coveralls with the messages, "Go s*** hole" and "Mak LZ Grt Again" as well a picture of monkeys, he says he found at his desk, are included in the lawsuit.

His attorney believes the messages are inspired by Trump and were intended to intimidate.

"No one has the right to reduce you because of your color, white, black or whatever. All companies should strive to make the workplace comfortable for everyone," said N. Lucy Chukwurah, Falobi's attorney.

Falobi, who has worked for Lubrizol since 2015, says he filed an ethics complaint against a co-worker a few years ago. That led to phone calls to his lab.

"How are y'all doing in the jungle. When are y'all going back to the jungle?" he recalled.

Last summer, he says he found a picture of monkeys on his desk. Then in August, he says his work uniform was vandalized.
He is a naturalized U.S. citizen from Nigeria.

"I came here for a better life. If I wanted to go back to the jungle, I know where the airport is. I know how to do that," Falobi said. "I don't think anyone should have to put up with this at work."

In response, a Lubrizol spokesperson released this statement:

"Lubrizol is deeply committed to diversity and inclusion as critical pillars of our culture and company values. We expect all of our employees to treat each other with dignity and respect, and we take all employee concerns relative to diversity and inclusion very seriously. At this time we cannot comment further on pending litigation."

Falobi says the situation has taken a toll on his health and marriage. The father of two young children, who's been on medical leave, is supposed to return to work next week.

The lawsuit is seeking damages and monetary relief over $1 million.

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