EEOC Faults Lockheed

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A federal agency said Monday that black workers at the Lockheed Martin plant in Meridian were subjected to racial harassment and a hostile work environment.

The plant in Marion, Miss., just outside Meridian, was the site of a death scene in July 2003 when an employee marched through the plant killing six co-workers before taking his own life.

The EEOC found that, from December 2001 through the day of the killings, the man responsible for the shooting rampage, Lockheed employee Doug Williams, was allowed to conduct a campaign of harassment against black workers quote, "through racially hostile, threatening and demeaning comments.''

Lockheed Martin spokesman Joe Stout spoke with Newscenter 11 in a telephone interview.

"While we disagree with the Jackson, Miss., EEOC Office's determination in these matters, it would be inappropriate for us to comment because of the pending litigation related to the Meridian tragedy," said Stout.

"The shooting at the Meridian facility was a senseless tragedy to all who were affected by it, including the victims, their families, the community, and the affected Lockheed Martin employees," Stout said.

"Out of respect for the victims, their families and the judicial system, we will have no further public comment on the litigation or on the reported finding of the Jackson EEOC Office."

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's ruling came in response to complaints filed on behalf of the family of Lynette McCall, one of the shooting victims who died.

The family had sought a determination of responsibility as a result of what it said was a racially motivated shooting.

Well-known civil rights attorney Bill Ready, Sr., of Meridian, does not represent the McCall family, but does represent 44 plaintiffs who have filed a lawsuit related to the shooting.

"That determination by EEOC found that there was race-based discrimination, particularly by Doug Williams, known to the company, which did nothing to abate it, prevent it, cure it or anything else, winding up in a shooting," Ready said.

The McCall family is represented by the firm of Thomas, Means, Gillis and Seay.

"This ruling supports the claims by our clients, the families of Lynette McCall and Samuel Cockrell, Jr., and Alvin Collier," said attorney Tyrone means. "Lockheed Martin failed in its responsibility to maintain a reasonably safe environment and also to take appropriate action to eliminate inappropriate behavior."

George McDonald contributed to this report.