Employee files lawsuit against Hawaiian Air after discovering lynching rope, noose
A Hawaiian Airlines employee claims someone racially harassed him by putting a noose and lynching rope next to his locker. Timothy Degrate, an African American says the display pushed him over the edge.
A Hawaiian Airlines employee claims someone racially harassed him by putting a noose and lynching rope next to his locker.
Timothy Degrate, an African American says the display pushed him over the edge.
He claims he had endured racial harassment on the job before, but said the noose triggered fear and anxiety.
"It was very unacceptable because I know what it means. It has a lot of significance. It means death, murder, intimidation. It has so many meanings to it. When you see that, it's not a good thing," Degrate said.
The Big Island resident has been in the maintenance department for 17 years and works at Kona International Airport.
His attorneys tell Island News after their client reported the incident, it took Hawaiian more than two months to launch an investigation.
"That states to Mr. Degrate that Hawaiian doesn't care. They claim to have lost the rope or not know where it is. So we don't know who actually did it. We want to get a DNA sample and find out who did it and maybe we're looking at a hate crime," said attorney Elizabeth Jubin Fujiwara.
Hawaiian Airlines released this statement on the matter:
"We are sorry that Mr. Degrate felt disrespected in any way. An independent investigation of Mr. Degrate’s allegations was unable to verify actions by specific individuals...and we vigorously deny all allegations of workplace violence...we have taken additional efforts to improve workplace interaction at our Kona station, including mandatory staff-wide training on communicating and interacting with respect. "
Attorney Joseph Rosenbaum felt the company handled the situation disrespectfully.
"I find it appalling that Hawaiian Airlines, a company that puts itself out to provide service with aloha would think that a lynching rope and a noose would be non-offensive to a black man. This is comparable to a swastika for a Jewish person. It signifies a loss of life," said Rosenbaum.
Degrade says he's been diagnosed with PTSD, and the airline has changed his shift per his doctor's recommendation.
The grandfather of two says he's desperate to find clarity after what he describes as chaos.
"This is taking over my life, mentally, physically, emotionally. It's just been a roller coaster and I don't know which way it's going to roll but it's just been terrible.