More Employees Come Forward With Information About Alleged Racism at Keyfood

New York-WABC, June 10, 2002) – More workers are coming forward with claims of racial discrimination at the Key Food Store Cooperative after an Eyewitness News Investigation. A new excerpt from a secretly recorded audiotape may show that executives ignored at least one discrimination complaint. The Investigators’ Jim Hoffer brings us this update on his report. Watch Jim Hoffer’s Report

The attorney filing the racial bias suit on behalf of two former employees now says at least a dozen more current and former Key Food workers have contacted him since Eyewitness News first broke the story last week. He says all of them back up the claims made in the lawsuit that racial discrimination was commonplace at Key Food’s headquarters.

Jim Hoffer, Eyewitness News: “Using racial comments?”
Gloria Minetta, Former Key Food Worker: “Yes!”
Hoffer: “Such as?”
Minetta: “Black, stupid.”
After our story aired about a Key Food executive caught on tape using racial slurs, Gloria Minetta, a former employee of the supermarket cooperative, contacted us to say the problem was much bigger than the one manager who was accused.

Hoffer: “Did you ever complain to anyone?”
Minetta: “No.”
Hoffer: “Why not?”
Minetta: “Who am I’m going to talk to, they’re all the same. Who am I going to go to say that this particular man is doing something I don’t like. I can’t do that, there’s nobody to ask.

And now others like Gloria Minetta are coming forward to substantiate claims of racial discrimination made in a lawsuit by former worker Nancy Mena and job applicant Shondelle North.

Marc Rapaport, Plaintiffs’ Attorney: “Some 12 people have contacted my office. Not just former employees, but this also includes current employees.”

Key Food executive Richard Grenard was fired after our story aired. An audio tape revealed Grenard using racial slurs in reference to a black applicant.

(From taped conversation)
Grenard: “Is she a f****g n****r?”
Coworker: “Yes, she’s of African American Decent.”
Grenard: “No, she’s a f****g n****r.”
Coworker: “Okay, well she’s of African…”
Grenard: “Does she have dredlocks?”
Coworker: “No she doesn’t have dredlocks.”
Grenard: “Does she smell?”

Key Food released a statement last week saying, “It has had a long-standing policy which prohibits all forms of discrimination.” The company added that “all allegations of discrimination are treated seriously and are diligently investigated.”

But Nancy Mena says when she told an executive she was quitting because of racism, the complaint was ignored. Mena’s coworker secretly taped a conversation with a Key Food executive in which the two discuss the problems Mena was having with Richard Grenard.

(From taped conversation)
Coworker: “She was crying a little bit, she told me, you know, certain things, racial things that Richie said to her in the past.”
Key Food Executive: “Yeah, I mentioned it ______ (name deleted) on our end.”
Coworker: Well, what did ______ (name deleted) say about that?”
Executive: “He said it was terrible and he walked away.”
Coworker: “He walked away from you.”
Executive: “Yeah.”

Rapaport: “There was no investigation, the tapes speak for themselves, they walked away, that’s what they did.”

Late Monday afternoon, Key Food’s chief executive released a statement to Eyewitness News stating that neither of the two former employees who filed the lawsuit nor Ms. Minette filed formal complaints with the company. The CEO adds that the company has held meetings with employees over the last several days to again stress the importance of their anti-bias policies.

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