Employees at a Joliet warehouse say the company has done little to remove racist graffiti, including swastikas and the letters KKK that adorn some walls.
They've filed complaints with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which is now looking into whether they can fine Schenker Logisitics or if the employees there can file a lawsuit.
Schenker is a subcontracted by Northfield-based Kraft foods to store and ship Cadbury products. Some of the workers are hired through a temp agency named ProLogistics. Only DB Schenker is named in the federal complaint.
"I don't want to have go to work and see this person that's hateful," said Angela McDonald, who said she's gone to management to complain that another employee had a Confederate flag on his truck.
Management, she said, did nothing.
"We have found that 40 percent of persons in this industry complain of discrimination in the workplace," said Abe Mwaura of the advocacy group Warehouse Workers for Justice.
Christopher Williams, an attorney representing the workers, said he has seen an increase in complaints since the recession from employees of subcontractors because companies can often hide behind each other.
"What we see is employers trying to stretch out the employment relationship and remove themselves to protect themselves from liability, but as a matter of law that's not going to work for them," he said.
"There is racist graffiti in all over the break rooms and the washrooms and the company is doing nothing about it," he said.
Earlier this year, warehouse workers in New Lenox accused a staffing agency of shorting their wages, denying them overtime pay and, in some cases, paying them less than the state's minimum wage of $8.25 an hour.
Those workers sued their employer, Reliable Staffing Group Inc., and the company contracting them, Schneider Logistics Inc., in federal court in Chicago.
A representative from Schenker said the company hasn't yet seen a copy of the charges, but said it will review and address the allegations when it does.
The EEOC has 60 days to respond. It can either take up the case or allow the workers to file their own lawsuits.