Lawsuit claims racial discrimination at Forest City Facebook data center

A lawsuit alleging racial discrimination at Facebook's data center in Forest City will now be tried in Asheville. (Photo credit: WLOS Staff)

A federal lawsuit alleging racial discrimination at Facebook's data center in Forest City will now be tried in Asheville.

Two-African American employees filed the federal lawsuit against the California-based company.

The lawsuit claims a supervisor at the center repeatedly used racial slurs. Associate Pastor of Oak Grove Missionary Baptist Church Theodore Kelly said he knows both men who filed the suit.

"Terrible thing to know that people still have racism still deep in their hearts," Kelly told News 13.

An attorney in the case confirms one of the two plaintiffs has now dropped out of the lawsuit. The brief states the case focuses on violations of civil rights. One plaintiff, Robert Gary, the lawsuit states in 2012 was "hired by Facebook as a Facilities Maintenance technician and paid $20.05 per hour."

The brief goes on to say when Gary got a promotion and asked if he was getting a raise his supervisor stated that Mr. Gary was a "lazy n(expletive) who wants everything handed to him."

The lawsuit alleges the company allowed a pattern of racism to continue unchecked at the data center for more than three years. A Facebook spokeswoman said the company took immediate action and terminated the supervisor in August 2015 upon learning the allegations were true. One of the two plaintiffs who detailed allegations has now "resolved" their case, according to Julie Fosbinder, who filed the brief.

"You can see from the complaint, that Mr. Gary began complaining about race discrimination back in early 2014," said Fosbinder. "He repeatedly wrote to various people and escalated it up the chain, ending up with Facebook Human Resources people in California."

Fosbinder also detailed testimony in the lawsuit detailing specific instances of racial slurs and insults addressed to African-American employees at the data center by the supervisor.

"This person, who at the time was in charge of the facility (in) Rutherford County, referred to African-American employees with the "n" word and calling them monkeys," said Fosbinder.

The Facebook spokeswoman said the company has instituted race and bias training and re-iterated the allegations are taken very seriously.

Kelly, who said the men named in the suit are his second-cousins, hopes the revelations are a wake-up call.

"The thing of it is to change the view of the management about how they feel about people," said Kelly. "All of us are human beings. God didn't create but one race of people, the human race."

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