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In Lawsuit, Former Contractor Alleges Racist Treatment At Portsmouth Naval Shipyard

Dan Tuohy / NHPR

A former contractor says he was the target of racism and discrimination at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.

The federal suit was filed in U.S. District Court of Maine by pipefitter Brandon Overton, who is black.

His complaint names Secretary of the Navy Richard Spencer, as well as two Virginia firms that employed Overton on a contract at the Portsmouth Shipyard from 2016 to 2017.

During that time, Overton says shipyard employees and other contractors treated him and other black workers differently than their white counterparts.

He says several workers continually intimidated and harassed him, calling him derogatory names like "Toby," "Kunta Kinte" and "boy."

Overton says he faced retaliation after reporting the issues. He was fired about six weeks later.

Workers at the shipyard admitted to some of the allegations under oath during an initial Equal Employment Office investigation.

The Navy denies that discrimination or racial harassment occurred. The contractors named have asked a judge to dismiss the suit.

If the case moves forward, a trial would take place in December.

(Click here to read Overton’s complaint and the Navy’s response.)

Annie has covered the environment, energy, climate change and the Seacoast region for NHPR since 2017. She leads the newsroom's climate reporting project, By Degrees.
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