Two former employees of Huntsman International LLC filed a racial discrimination lawsuit against the specialty chemicals maker, alleging hostility toward them as Black employees at the company's manufacturing plant in Los Angeles.
The employees, Reggie Williams and Ronda Davis, say the hostility led to a segregated work environment, including "Africa" and "Mexico" sides of a production area, that ruined their careers.
Officials of The Woodlands, Texas-based company deny the allegations in a statement issued April 19.
"The former employees are claiming they faced hostile and discriminatory treatment at that worksite due to their race, national origin and sex, and that they were wrongfully terminated. These charges are false," the statement says.
Huntsman officials conducted a thorough investigation that led to the plaintiffs being fired last November by local management for misconduct and unprofessional behavior in the workplace, according to the statement.
The pair took unauthorized extended breaks and engaged in intimate encounters throughout the facility on West San Fernando Road, the Huntsman statement says.
"The decision to terminate their employment was not racially motivated in any way," it says.
However, the plaintiffs' attorney, Arthur Kim of the Arthur Kim Law Firm in Beverly Hills, Calif., says a racially motivated witch hunt resulted in their terminations.
"Huntsman has a real race problem at the Los Angeles plant. They need to face the music and get it under control. Otherwise, you will end up with victims like Reggie Williams and Ronda Davis, who are innocent, hardworking people," Kim said in an email.
Davis worked as a chemical operator at the plant from 2019 to Nov. 1, 2021. She says she was subjected to severe and pervasive harassment based on her race and sex, which created a hostile work environment.
Williams, who had worked at Huntsman for 15 years, alleges his work environment was split into an "Africa" side and a "Mexico" side.
Black employees on the Africa side were forced to do heavier, more punishing work, Williams also alleges.
"This hurt me to the core," Williams said in a news release issued by Kim's firm.
In their response, Huntsman officials said they don't typically comment about pending lawsuits but in this case the company is publicly defending its reputation and the integrity of its employees.
"Huntsman stands firmly against all forms of discrimination in and outside of the workplace and thoroughly investigates all claims of misconduct or unethical behavior," the statement says. "Claims and concerns can be raised through multiple channels — including an anonymous hotline, none of which these former employees chose to utilize. Huntsman will aggressively defend the case and the integrity of its local workforce against these false charges."
Williams and Davis are seeking a jury trial in their case filed April 1 in Los Angeles Superior Court against Huntsman Advanced Materials LLC and Huntsman International LLC; an individual chemical operator, Sergio Silva; and 1-100 John and Jane Doe defendants, who could be added to the lawsuit when their names and roles are determined.
The case has been assigned to Judge Theresa M. Traber.