Pittsfield couple claims racial discrimination in the workplace
Fri, 18 Nov 2011 04:00:00 GMT —
A Pike County couple has filed a complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleging racial discrimination in the workplace.
John and Hope Mizell say it's a case that would make Abraham Lincoln roll over in his grave.
The interracial couple moved to Pittsfield from North Carolina with their two children last February.
They came from a small rural community, similar to Pittsfield.
John was hired to manage Motel Pike.
Before Hope arrived to the the area, John spoke with a manager at the Hardee's restaurant about Hope's six years of experience as a biscuit maker.
The manager told John the business needed a biscuit maker and to send her right over as soon as she arrived in Pittsfield.
What the manager didn't know was that Hope was black, which Hope says changed everything.
John and Hope Mizell say they hope no one ever has to experience what Hope experienced in the workplace. On her first day of work, Hope says her boss looked her up and down.
Hope Mizell said, "So I'm thinking, "I'll move up here. Lincoln! I mean come on, this is the town of Lincoln. I get here, and she looks me up and down, and I'm like, 'okay, this might not be the best.'"
After Hope had been on the job for 3 hours, Hope claims her supervisor said, "I don't like Martin Luther King. There's blacks and there's n's and I wish they'd all go back to where they came from."
Hope's husband John encouraged her to submit a letter to her supervisor's boss, but they say they never received a response.
John said, "I would like to see the man that we spoke with do his job and conduct the investigation and make reprimands where necessary, but he failed to do that and thus, we took it one step further to the EEOC."
The Mizell's filed this complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in Chicago. Click here for information on filing complaints with the EEOC.
John said, "We came from a small country town, and it seemed almost like a mirror image of where we came from. It's a beautiful place. We've met a lot of prominent people here and they've all extended warm welcomes. Everybody as a whole except for this one lady. She just has a big problem with interracial marriages, and the fact that we exist as a partnership."
Hope resigned after three weeks on the job.
Hope said, "I have to stand up. If I don't stand up, who will?"
John said one of his customers from Texas ate at Hardee's this past summer. The customer claims when he mentioned where he was staying, the fast-food restaurant manager allegedly referred to Hope by a racial slur. The customer also said the manager said she "couldn't believe a white person from Arkansas would marry an n....." and that interracial marriage was not right.
John said, "I feel that this is a sad day. A very sad day that when a person tries to hold down a job in a workplace where you're governed by laws that this will not happen."
Hope said, "I know that my mom and my grandmother had went through stuff, and it was just like, 'ok, we thought everything was gone and dead.'"
A partner with the company that owns the Hardee's restaurant in Pittsfield says he is taking the complaint very seriously.
But, Buddy Brown says he can't comment because of the ongoing investigation with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
The EEOC did not return KHQA's phone calls.
The general manager of the Hardee's restaurant in Pittsfield told KHQA she had no comment on the situation either.