3M's Discrimination in Aberdeen - Exposing Injustice

Discrimination Details

Here we will share stories from individuals who have come forward to tell you how they became targets of harassment, discrimination, and retaliation at 3M.

The truth will not be silenced. In the face of 3M management’s attempts to intimidate, brave individuals have stepped forward to share their stories. Together, we will bring these narratives to light, armed with irrefutable evidence that exposes the thoughtless, vindictive, and blatantly discriminatory behavior perpetuated by 3M management.

This is the story 3M desperately tries to conceal—the story they don’t want you to hear. But we refuse to be silenced. We stand united, demanding justice and equality for all.

“We must all stand together and fight for justice for all to be treated equally.”

 — 3M Victims Group

You can learn more about the various types of discrimination prohibited by law by visiting the official U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission website.

Real Stories of 3M Discrimination

Learn more about the discrimination and harassment endured by these individuals at the hands of 3M management.

John Wingo

John Wingo was wrongfully terminated on October 18, 2021, after being discriminated against based on his race and a physical disability, and in retaliation for making complaints about the discriminatory conduct of his coworkers and supervisors at 3M.

You can view John Wingo’s formal legal complaint by clicking here.

3M Management Blocks Minority Advancement

It started with a failure to train. At 3M, internal candidates must have the proper certifications, training, and experience in order to pursue promotions and new job postings. John Wingo had the ability to advance – after all he was often required to train new workers – but realized that he was being passed up by coworkers who had started months later. Whenever he tried to complete certification, 3M management would deliberately prolong the process past the deadline for the certification he was trying to achieve, rendering his efforts useless. Between January 2020 and January 2021, multiple coworkers who joined his department received certification while John Wingo was refused.

Racial Discrimination and Harassment Runs Rampant at 3M

John Wingo was also the target of a constant stream of racist harassment by coworkers at 3M. At one point he told 3M management that he was repeatedly being harassed with the word n— r. The reply from 3M management? “He’s not calling you that every night at work…I know he’s done it in the past.”

In one incident, John Wingo was working on the plant floor and two coworkers stated he “moved and looked like a monkey”. He left the work area, and after reporting the statement to a supervisor one of the coworkers physically assaulted him right there in full view. When the issue was escalated to 3M management, John Wingo was somehow the one written up for a “verbal altercation.”

At a local event, several 3M employees pointed to a noose, mimicked being hung, then pointed at John Wingo and his brother Vaughn Wingo while commenting about how, “They need to bring back the good old days.” When John Wingo took video of the situation and tried to show it to 3M management, he was told, “What they do outside of work does not pertain to what happens at work.” When John Wingo later reported that 3M employees were imitating being hung and staring him down at work, 3M management did nothing.

In April 2021, two coworkers waited at John Wingo’s own residence to physically assault him upon his arrival. John Wingo filed a police report and informed his employer, 3M. Following this incident, the two attackers repeatedly approached John Wingo during work hours to harass, intimidate, shout racial slurs, and attempt to engage in physical violence. John Wingo again contacted the police, who told him to inform 3M management. He followed their instructions, and told 3M management he needed to speak with HR immediately as he was in fear for his life. At this point John Wingo was in such fear for his physical wellbeing at work that he took leave to avoid further confrontation.

Instead of taking prompt action, 3M management told John Wingo to come back to work while they investigated. When he returned to work, John Wingo was surprised to learn that he was being disciplined via restrictions on walking through certain areas of the plant. Meanwhile, his attackers were free to repeatedly visit John Wingo’s work area to attack, harass, and throw racial slurs without repercussion.

After eight days of continued harassment, including 3M management cancelling three planned HR meetings, 3M management and HR came to John Wingo and said, “this isn’t a work issue,” a confusing response given that there was daily abuse occurring at work.   

Despite multiple reports and a promise to fix the problem from 3M management, John Wingo’s assailants continued to physically threaten and hurl racist comments at him for years while remaining employed at 3M. Eventually John Wingo teamed up with fellow target of harassment and discrimination, Desiree Holler, to minimize the window for his attackers to cause trouble for both of them. They would both team up on one machine (a common practice among workers at 3M), get that work done, then move together to a second machine located further from the attackers to complete tasks there. All machines in their department hit their goals, but 3M management punished both John Wingo and Desiree Holler for their solution.

After yet another incident in which he was cornered in the bathroom by one of his assailants, John Wingo was called in to meet with 3M management and HR. There, he was shocked to find he was being punished for having a cell phone on the production floor – a phone he felt necessary to have in order to record and report threats on his own safety. John Wingo was told there is no evidence of racial slurs, harassment, and threats despite having provided proof and several eyewitnesses.

At this point 3M management begins a pattern of repeated false claims about John Wingo’s production quality and work ethic, and about his use of cell phones on the plant floor, in addition to taking issue with adjusting his parental leave to match the early birth of his first child. 3M management also solicited false statements from coworkers regarding John Wingo’s behavior.

3M Refuses to Accommodate Disability

During all of this, 3M had asked John Wingo to regularly operate machinery against OSHA standards, which predictably led to a major shoulder injury and physical disability. Despite formal work restriction forms completed by John Wingo’s doctor which described his disability, 3M management refused to accommodate as legally required, continuing to place him on machines he was not medically cleared to operate and punishing John Wingo by sending him home instead of giving him one of many possible alternate work options. 3M management also discussed John Wingo’s Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) accommodations and other medical information publicly in order to incite further harassment and humiliation from coworkers.

A Sudden and Inexplicable Firing

Any day John Wingo did work he was required to complete a Transitional Employment Plan (TEP) form, an internal 3M document which is meant to keep 3M management and 3M’s Occupational Health Nurses informed about his work restrictions and how current work is impacting his pain levels or physical restrictions. He did so, up until the day he was suddenly and inexplicably fired for using work time to complete this regularly required work-related paperwork, a clear violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and U.S. Department of Labor regulations.

Desiree Holler

Desiree Holler has been discriminated against based on race, subjected to gender discrimination by her coworkers and supervisors, and has been retaliated against for reporting discriminatory conduct by her supervisors and coworkers at 3M.

You can view Desiree Holler’s formal legal complaint by clicking here.

Blatant Gender Discrimination at 3M

After a year working overnight shift and having gained the proper certifications, training, and experience, Desiree Holler applied to move to a position in another department.

3M’s formal policy is that if multiple candidates have the proper qualifications, then placement in these positions goes by seniority.

Despite Desiree Holler having more seniority, the new position was given to a male employee instead.

The male employee agreed that Desiree Holler should have the role due to her seniority and spoke to their supervisors about the unfairness of the decision.

Immediately after this conversation, 3M plant management began to systematically discourage Desiree Holler from pursuing the position further. Managers began to directly tell Desiree Holler how physically demanding the position was, implying that she would be unable to perform her duties because she is female. They also enlisted other employees to attempt to persuade Desiree Holler that the job was too difficult for a female to perform. Despite Desiree Holler’s repeated insistence she was aware of the requirements for the position and comfortable with the physicality needed, attempts to discourage her from pursuing the position, and specifically to allow a male to take the position, continued.

Finally, after extensive self-advocacy and enlisting other employees to speak in her favor, Desiree Holler was offered the opportunity to work the position she had already earned the rights to.

Retaliation for Reporting Discrimination and Supporting John Wingo

Desiree Holler was trained in her new position by John Wingo, a target of constant discrimination at 3M. Despite John Wingo being responsible for Desiree Holler’s initial training in this new work area, Desiree Holler actually wound up training John Wingo on the use of a machine which supervisors had repeatedly prevented him from being trained on himself.

When supervisors saw Desiree Holler was training John Wingo, something that was necessary to allow John Wingo to do his job as scheduled by 3M management, they become irate to the point of yelling so loudly that other employees stopped work to see what was going on.

“Double teaming” difficult machines was common practice at 3M Aberdeen, even being explicitly allowed in the 3M employee manual, yet when Desiree Holler and John Wingo worked together to lift massive rolls of material into place 3M management disciplined both individuals.

In April 2021, Desiree Holler witnessed John Wingo being accosted by the employees who had physically assaulted him at his own residence. Desiree Holler reported to plant management that the two men had threatened John Wingo, cussed at him, and called him a n— r. Instead of doing the right thing, 3M management disciplined Desiree Holler for reporting the discriminatory conduct.

3M management continued to repeatedly write Desiree Holler up for basic actions many other employees did on a regular basis – helping John Wingo with settings on the machine she had trained him on, for example. Many times these write-ups came only after Desiree Holler complained to supervisors about the treatment John Wingo had been experiencing in the department and at the plant.

Because plant management would do nothing about the dangerous situation – and indeed encouraged it by writing up anyone who reported issues – created by their complete failure to separate employees who had physically assaulted John Wingo from their victim, Desiree Holler and John Wingo were forced to plan out ways to avoid these men who were continually and repeatedly harassing on the basis of race. This plan involved first completing the work on John Wingo’s assigned machine together so that they could move to the further-back machine Desiree Holler was assigned and finish their shift in peace. No productivity was lost and all targets were being met.

Despite attempts to avoid confrontation, the two assailants continued to harass, verbally abuse, and threaten violence upon John Wingo in the presence of Desiree Holler. 3M management was repeatedly informed and even directly witnessed the harassment. Instead of pursuing action against the aggressors, managers repeatedly wrote up Desiree Holler and John Wingo.

Believing the process could still work properly, Desiree Holler continued to report incidents that occurred at work, for which she received additional backlash and retaliation, including punishments for trivialities such as allegedly returning from break one minute late, from both coworkers and management.

This retaliation against Desiree Holler continued even after John Wingo was unfairly dismissed.

Titus Kargbo

Titus Kargbo was discharged by 3M Aberdeen on August 3, 2021 due to ongoing racial discrimination and in retaliation for reporting discriminatory conduct at the plant, including by his supervisors and coworkers.

You can view Titus Kargbo’ formal legal complaint by clicking here.

Retaliation for Reporting Discrimination and Supporting John Wingo

Titus Kargbo worked alongside John Wingo at the 3M plant in Aberdeen. Titus Kargbo witnessed John Wingo being harassed and called racial slurs, and following an altercation in April 2021 Titus Kargbo spoke with 3M management about the harassment John Wingo was experiencing. Titus Kargbo shared that he witnessed a coworker who had previously physically assaulted John Wingo at his own home walk in and say, “This n— r is a bitch.”

Titus Kargbo asked 3M management whether he should make a report and speak to HR. 3M management told Titus Kargbo not to worry about it, that they would “handle the issues.”

3M management did nothing to handle those issues, and shortly after making his report Titus Kargbo was transferred to a less desirable work area. He was assigned to a machine known to have a lot of issues, to the point that no employees wanted to operate it. The machine would regularly have to be worked on by a mechanic and sometimes would be fully out of commission. Despite management being well aware of the issues with this machine, Titus Kargbo was harassed about his production numbers being low. Not only that, but Titus Kargbo, a black male, was scapegoated for a white coworker not meeting their production numbers, despite Titus Kargbo having no supervisory control.

Titus Kargbo also experienced verbal harassment from coworkers who used racial slurs and threats on the production floor. Despite Titus Kargbo and others reporting these discriminatory actions to supervisors and management, the occurrences continued.

Facing discrimination, hate, stress, and blame at work, Titus Kargbo became depressed and started to lose sleep. Titus Kargbo continued to work with the problematic machine and poured energy into improving productivity despite the hurdles placed in front of him by 3M management, but the racist, hostile environment eventually led to his discharge.

Titus Kargbo was not reassigned or treated poorly until he reported mistreatment of John Wingo to 3M management.

Vaughn Wingo

Vaughn Wingo was employed on a contract for 3M’s Aberdeen plant until he was wrongfully terminated on November 27, 2018, due to his race and in retaliation for being John Wingo’s brother.

You can view Vaughn Wingo’s formal legal complaint by clicking here.

3M Management Blocks Minority Advancement

Vaughn Wingo met all qualifications to become a full-time employee at 3M, yet was hired as a temporary employee. Meanwhile, others with far weaker qualifications were placed in full-time positions. Vaughn Wingo took the placement test for 3M in early August 2018 and was placed on contract as a Production Operator shortly after.

3M Racism and Retaliation

August 2018 is also when John Wingo began lodging complaints about racial discriminatory acts by 3M employees. As we’ve demonstrated in every story here, once John Wingo began lodging complaints of discrimination, individuals connected to John Wingo, and individuals John Wingo identified as witnesses to the discriminatory behavior, faced retaliation from coworkers and 3M management.

Though Vaughn Wingo was told by his supervisor that his performance was exceeding standards, and that 3M should be approving his request to become a permanent employee, he heard nothing for over a month. During this same period, a white employee with a lower score on the placement exam and weaker job performance who was hired at the same time as Vaughn Wingo was made a permanent employee. This other employee was actually trained by Vaughn Wingo prior to her being eligible to be made permanent and after his own request to become permanent had been submitted. In fact, despite not being made permanent, Vaughn Wingo was paired with this employee to watch and help them as they consistently underperformed.

After this, 3M management began the process of getting rid of another Wingo brother. Vaughn Wingo was transferred to a different department, still without any indication as to whether he would be made a permanent employee. His hours were drastically reduced, he was passed up for training opportunities, then his hours were cut further because he wasn’t trained.

3M Won’t Make You Permanent Because You’re Black

In early November 2018, Vaughn Wingo was told directly by a supervisor that 3M management would not make him permanent because he was black, stating, “This is not my circus but you are my monkey, and I’m not going to hire you.” Shortly after this was communicated, Vaughn Wingo was “ghosted” by 3M – they simply stopped scheduling him or calling him in for shifts.

To date, Vaughn Wingo has still not received his final paycheck from 3M.

If you have a story of discrimination, harassment, or unethical treatment at the hands of 3M management you can share it via our Contact Form.