BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD)An ExxonMobil contractor has been terminated from the company after an investigation determined he showed a noose to a coworker.

Hillar Moore, district attorney for East Baton Rouge Parish, Louisiana, said no charges have been filed against the unidentified worker.

He said displaying a noose is a form of hate speech and not an act of violence or hate crime.

“You obviously have to prove who put the noose there and what their intent was for this person for this particular reason,” said Moore. “We have to prove that, and it’s sometimes difficult to do without text messages, statements, videos and things like that just like any other crime.”

The noose incident happened in December 2020 but was just recently made public.

On Tuesday, an employee with a contractor firm raised concerns about the work culture at the refinery after receiving an internal communication to underscore that the display of a noose on any ExxonMobil premises is unacceptable, offensive and in violation of their corporate harassment policy and may also violate federal or state laws. 

ExxonMobil said the notice was communicated to Chemical Plant and Refinery employees in 2020 after two incidents — one with a contractor displaying the noose to a coworker and one in which a rope was found onsite at a unit. 

The rope found at the unit was determined to have been left on the ground for work purposes only and was not purposely displayed nor fashioned as a noose.

In a statement, ExxonMobil said: 

“We believe these incidents do not reflect the culture of our larger Baton Rouge workforce. Management aggressively investigates any reports of ropes that may appear to be displayed as nooses at any of our Baton Rouge facilities or any other actions or potential displays of harassment or discrimination. We have a zero tolerance policy of any form of harassment or discrimination in the workplace by or towards employees, contractors, suppliers or customers. Identified offenders are held accountable for their action. Specifically, any identified employee offenders would be terminated from ExxonMobil, and any contractor offenders would be denied entry to the site. It’s our policy to notify the Sheriff’s Department anytime there is a suspected situation. ExxonMobil works in full cooperation with local authorities to identify those responsible.”

Stephanie Cargile: ExxonMobil Baton Rouge Public & Government Affairs Manager

Eugene Collins, president of the Baton Rouge chapter of the NAACP, said, “Racism is alive and well and we’re in the deep south so it’s just always been embedded in the culture so none of those activities surprise me.”

Although the company acted quickly, Collins said incidents like this are cause for termination. 

“There’s no saving face on this. You got to admit that there’s an issue. There’s something going on and dig a little bit deeper to make sure the incident isn’t cultural,” said Collins.