Ft. Lauderdale Airport Noose Flap

Worker harassed by coworkers with racist symbol

A worker at Fort Lauderdale airport says he's been subjected to harassment for months by coworkers who have left nooses throughout his office.

Gerald Thomas is the only African-American working for Fuel Facility Management, a company contracted by Broward County to maintain the gas pumps for rental car companies at the airport.

Thomas says that the symbols of racism and hate have been left for him on three separate occasions, sitting on and dangling above his desk and hung in the bathroom he shares with coworkers.

He says the harassment was taken a step further when a shift supervisor, who also happens to be the son-in-law of the owner of FFM, tried to put the noose around Thomas' neck.  

"While I'm doing my work, he's trying to deliberately place the noose around my neck, trying to throw it around my neck," Thomas told WPLG.

Two employees, including the son-in-law, were fired over the incidents, but one of the men fired says it was just a misunderstanding.  

"It's a bad mistake but it was not meant to be what it was," said fired worker Mark Hinkle. "It was something that was on the desk, I just put it there, I should have thrown it away."

The noose flap has pols wondering whether the County should be keeping FFM under contract.

“I really question whether we need to be doing business with this company," Broward County Commissioner Joe Eggelletion Jr. told WPLG. "I’m surprised and embarrassed that this is going on in Broward County today."

FFM's owner, Janet Hoose, says the ropes were not nooses and that it doesn't matter because the offenders were fired anyway.

"The person that thought it was [a noose] came to us, we had not heard about it before," Hoose said. "As soon as we heard about it, we took matters into those hands and removed the people that were involved."

The Broward office of Equal Opportunity is investigating the incident. Thomas still works for FFM.

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