Black workers sue over 'white' water fountain

Ignorance of the law is no excuse, but the manager of a Tennessee cotton warehouse didn't get that memo or maybe any other issued this century.

Antonio Harris, a fork lift driver at Atkinson Cotton Warehouse in Memphis, said he got so sick of racist comments by his "head supervisor" he used his smartphone to record several conversations.

Recording audio without consent is legal in Tennessee, Georgia and most states, but is illegal in Florida and 11 other states.

Channel 3 in Memphis brings us the shocking audio.

When Harris tries to use the office water fountain, the unnamed supervisor says "I need to put a sign here that says 'white people only.'"

In another recording Harris tries to use the microwave.

"Hell no!" says the supervisor.

When asked why he can't get a drink, the supervisor clearly says "you are not white."

"As a white man, we don't even let Larry use it," says the supervisor, referring to a longtime black employee of the warehouse.

The supervisor seems to fondly recall segregation.

"Back then, nobody thought anything about it. Now everybody is made to think [separate water fountains for blacks] is bad."

When Harris asks what will happen if he is caught using the fountain, the supervisor says "that is when we hang you."

Harris and fellow worker Marrio Mangrum filed a complaint with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission which is now mediating a financial settlement with the cotton warehouse's owner.

The fork lift drivers probably only need to retain their job skills long enough to load a few bales of cash.

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