NEWARK, N.J. (CN) - A black worker named Clinton Tucker claims in court that Benjamin Moore paints fired him after his repeated complaints about their "despicable and racially insulting paint colors called 'Clinton Brown' and 'Tucker Chocolate.'"
Tucker sued the paint giant in Essex County Court.
Tucker, who identifies himself in the 16-page filing as an African-American homosexual male, claims that when he started working at Benjamin Moore in June 2011 in their Digital Marketing department, "it was clear to the plaintiff that he was not part of the traditional culture" of the company.
Tucker says that major problems started for him when he launched the online arm of the company's Main Street Matters campaign. In that campaign, he claims, "one of the colors launched in the Williamsburg color collection was 'Tucker Chocolate.'"
Tucker says that "being a black man named Clinton Tucker, the plaintiff found this to be extremely racially offensive" and that "when this was mentioned at a meeting with at least eight people including his supervisor, this was met with awkward silence."
Tucker adds that "in addition, BM has a color called 'Clinton Brown.'" He claims that "a BM employee pointed this out to the plaintiff and thought it was funny."
Tucker says that in another meeting, the topic of employees' favorite Benjamin Moore colors came up in conversation, at which point he claims he "turned to his supervisor, who at this point was well aware of his disdain, [and] stated, 'well you know my least favorite colors.'"
Tucker claims that his supervisor then "turned to her Vice President, Nick Harris, and said, 'Well you know about Clinton Brown and Tucker Chocolate.'"
He adds that "Harris acted shocked even though it had long been the disgusting and distasteful joke of the group."
Tucker says that after this exchange, a colleague asked, "If you think that is bad, what about Confederate Red?" which Tucker says is a color of paint that is "offensively described by Benjamin [Moore] as a 'timeless and enduring classic.'"
Tucker says he "repeated his disdain and affront to these offensive color names time and time again," but that "despite [his] repeated complaints and protestations to BM management about these appallingly racial color names, no action was ever taken by Benjamin Moore to change the names of these colors and they remain on Benjamin Moore's web site and are still sold on the open market with these racially offensive names."
Tucker claims that "despite his value, accomplishments and productivity for the company, the plaintiff was repeatedly denied opportunities for promotion and growth by BM due to his race" and that "despite spending countless hours in the office, the plaintiff was only getting paid for a 40-hour week."
Tucker claims that Benjamin Moore eventually wrongfully terminated him in March 2014, but "retained Tucker's two white, blonde-haired and blue-eyed subordinates."
Benjamin Moore did not respond to a request for comment.
Tucker seeks damages for discrimination, retaliation and a hostile work environment. He is represented by Charles Schalk with Mauro, Savo, Camerino, Grant & Schalk of Somerville.