Fired employee sues paint company over racist paint names
Clinton Tucker, who managed online sales for Benjamin Moore, which is owned by the conglomerate Berkshire Hathaway, said that he was bothered by the names of several of the company’s paint colors, “Clinton Brown,” “Tucker Chocolate,” and “Confederate Red.”
“Being a black man named Clinton Tucker, the plaintiff found this to be extremely racially offensive,” reads the complaint, filed in Essex County Court.
Tucker claims that the company’s executive management were aware of his displeasure with the color names, but failed to take his complaints seriously and then terminated — allegedly unlawfully — him in March 2014.
Tucker worked on a project to create a new line of paint colors. One of the shades was given the name “Tucker Chocolate.”
The company already had a color named “Clinton Brown.” A co-worker pointed out the names of the two paint colors, which together contained Tucker’s first and last name, and thought it was funny, according to the lawsuit.
“Tucker found it to be repulsive,” the complaint reads.
“Coupled with ‘Tucker Chocolate,’ it was racially offensive and demeaning to Clinton Tucker.”
Tucker claims that in a meeting in which employees were asked about their favorite Benjamin Moore colors, he turned to a supervisor and said “well you know my least favorite colors.”
A colleague then spoke up, saying “if you think that is bad, what about Confederate Red?”
“Confederate Red” is another Benjamin Moore paint whose name seemingly references the southern side of the U.S. Civil War.
“Despite Mr. Tucker’s repeated complaints and protestations to [Benjamin Moore] management about these appallingly racial color names, no action was ever taken,” Tucker’s suit reads, pointing out that the company still sells the paint colors at its stores and online.
Tucker made other allegations, including that the company has a “toxic” work environment that is hostile to minorities.
Tucker, who identifies himself in the suit as homosexual, claims that since he started at the company in 2011, “it was clear…that he was not part of the traditional culture of the company.”
Approximately 10 of Benjamin Moore’s New Jersey headquarters’ employees were black and only one was homosexual, the suit claims.
The 34 year-old Tucker, who had nine years of work experience in online retail marketing, also says that the company denied him promotions and opportunities for growth while promoting whites.
His boss ignored an email Tucker sent requesting to be able to take off work to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the suit claims.
“This request was ignored and [the director of digital marketing], just mockingly smirked at the plaintiff on Martin Luther King holiday.”
Following that incident, Tucker alleges that he was demoted and given fewer responsibilities while white co-workers were given promotions.
Tucker claims that he was unlawfully terminated in March 2014.
His suit accuses Benjamin Moore of discrimination, a hostile work environment, and retaliation and seeks compensatory and punitive damages.
The Daily Caller contacted Tucker’s attorney, Charles Schalk to clarify the accusations.
“Yes, the allegation is the colors were named after my client,” Schalk told TheDC.
On its website, Benjamin Moore describes “Tucker Chocolate” as “capturing the 1798 color requested by St. George Tucker for his home facing Courthouse Green, this deep brown is classic and understated.”
Benjamin Moore Paints did not return TheDC’s request for comment.