Employee sues Pleasanton construction company after allegedly receiving racist gift

Thursday, June 08, 2017 06:23PM
The owners of a Pleasanton construction company, a husband and wife, are under fire for allegedly giving an African-American employee a Confederate flag purse as a holiday gift.


PLEASANTON, Calif. - The owners of a Pleasanton construction company, a husband and wife, are under fire for allegedly giving an African-American employee a Confederate flag purse as a holiday gift.

That employee has now filed a race discrimination and harassment lawsuit against Southland Construction.

Tishay Wright said it was the last straw -- a racist package she believes was retaliation for her speaking up about prior incidents. "This is not a joke. This is very serious," she said.

The holiday gift from her boss was a rhinestone purse with a Confederate flag on it. And inside, photos of her boss and his wife dressed in Donald Trump attire with more Confederate memorabilia behind them.


"It made me sick to my stomach," Wright said. "And I felt like dirt, like he considered me to be less of a human."

Photos show Southland owner Kenneth Hayden and his wife Anita. They appear to have been taken inside an office cubicle.

"I've never dealt with something that was so offensive, where someone was so proud to inflict an injury message on another person," Wright's attorney, Christopher Dolan, said.

Wright worked as a project administrator at Southland for a year and a half. She says there were other incidents, including a few weeks before the Christmas part, when she and a Latina coworker were called into Hayden's office.

"And he told us that we were his b-- and we needed to take notes on the projects we were going to be discussing," Wright said.


ABC7 News reached out to the Haydens at their Pleasanton office, also by email and phone, with no reply.

The company website does state its core values: "Southland Construction seeks to serve our customers, vendors and employees as we serve the Lord Jesus Christ by displaying honesty... integrity... loyalty, respect for others and ourselves."

"They portrayed to be Christians. I am a Christian, so for them to do something like that to someone, it says a lot about their character," Wright said.

Wright's lawsuit seeks unspecified damages for discrimination, emotional distress and wrongful termination. Click here to read the full complaint.

(Copyright ©2017 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.)
Outbrain