Exxon sued by government for failing to stop harassment of black employees

Milferd McGhee, a black employee of oil giant Exxon, found a noose at the company's Baton Rouge plant. He found another a few months later–the fifth "rope tied into a hangman's noose hanging from a scaffold" in total. The government, after investigating, is suing to stop it happening again.

The lawsuit – filed by the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) – alleges the oil giant violated federal law by investigating some but not all of the incidents involving nooses at the Baton Rouge chemical plant, leading to "a racially hostile work environment".

"A noose is a longstanding symbol of violence associated with the lynching of African Americans," said Elizabeth Owen, an attorney with the EEOC in New Orleans. "Such symbols are inherently threatening and significantly alter the workplace environment for black Americans."

Exxon spokesman Todd Spitler told the BBC that "We have a zero tolerance policy of any form of harassment or discrimination in the workplace."

Why did it keep happening, then, Todd?