Former employee Yunusa Kenchi has filed a racial discrimination lawsuit against Hanesbrands — most known for its Michael Jordan underwear commercials — after being terminated from his role as creative designer at the company, according to the Village Voice.
Lawyer Patrick Boyd of the Boyd Law Group said that Kenchi faced “consistent insults and ridicule from a hostile supervisor.” The abuse carried on until Kenchi intercepted an e-mail from his boss describing him as a “N*gger.”
The e-mail stated:
Kenchi is seeking “a meaningful apology from Hanes” and unspecified compensation from the company “in excess of $1 million.
Attorney Boyd expressed his feelings regarding the undergarment company:
A company this large, dealing with a diverse community, is not taking responsibility. [The e-mailer] was a designer for the Michael Jordan line of clothing for many years! It goes to show you that even companies with prominent African-American spokespeople can have racist elements at a high level.
Since then, Hanes has issued an apology:
Hanesbrands Inc. is proud of its diverse worldwide workforce and does not tolerate discriminatory behavior. After allegations emerged of improper conduct in the termination of Mr. Kenchi, Hanesbrands conducted a thorough investigation and found evidence of an offensive attitude and use of language that is not acceptable and will not be tolerated. We sincerely regret that the situation arose and are troubled that Mr. Kenchi’s termination process may have been tainted by unacceptable attitudes. In lieu of these findings, Hanes brands took decisive disciplinary steps, including the termination of a supervisor, and made Mr. Kenchi an unconditional offer of employment to return to the company.
Kenchi, who is African American and Muslim, started at Hanes in April of 2007 and was terminated on August 22, 2008. Is it too late for the apologies to overpower the company’s racist practices? Should their biggest endorser, Jordan, cut loose from Hanes?