Racial discrimination lawsuit over mock KKK hood, burning cross ends in settlement

Former temp workers sued Gencor Industries, alleging racial discrimination

By Mike DeForest - Investigative Reporter

ORLANDO, Fla. - Gencor Industries has settled a racial discrimination lawsuit filed by two former temporary employees who claim they were confronted by a supervisor who had fashioned his work uniform to resemble a member of the Ku Klux Klan.

The terms of the settlement were not been disclosed in federal court records. An attorney representing the former temp workers said he does not have a comment on the settlement. A lawyer for Gencor Industries did not immediately respond to an email from News 6 seeking comment.

In April 2017, about a month after industrial painter John Shipley began working at the Orlando company that manufactures construction equipment, he claims his supervisor entered the paint booth holding a makeshift flaming cross while wearing a pointed white hood with writing on it that referenced the Ku Klux Klan. 

"It's a hood that we wear when you're sandblasting, and it had 'KKK' written on top," said Shipley, who is black. "He actually put two paint sticks together, taped them up like a cross, took one of our rags that we use for cleaning up, and lit it on fire."

According to Shipley, the supervisor was partially dressed in a white “spray suit” worn by workers while painting.

"He said, 'Get your a** over here right now.  I'm going to f*** you up," Shipley said his hooded supervisor told him.

Shipley took a photo of the supervisor, which he said he shared with the company’s human resources department.

Immediately, Shipley claims, he and four other minority temporary workers were transferred to the night shift.

Three months later, Shipley said the staffing agency that had arranged his job at Gencor Industries informed him that his services were no longer needed.

"The night shift has been terminated," Shipley said he was told.

Last year Shipley filed a lawsuit against Gencor Industries, accusing the publicly traded company of retaliation and race discrimination that caused a hostile work environment.  He originally sought reinstatement with the company or unspecified lost pay, along with compensatory damages.

Jermaine Guilliame, another black temp worker who was also dismissed from the company, later joined Shipley’s lawsuit as a second plaintiff.

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