A law firm pressing a racial discrimination lawsuit against Eli Lilly and Co. says a security guard found a noose hanging in a tree on Lilly's corporate campus in Indianapolis.
Rose & Rose, a Washington, D.C., law firm, sent a statement about the incident late yesterday. The law firm is representing a group of current and former black Lilly employees who say they were the victims of racial discrimination and hostility at Lilly.
The FBI office in Indianapolis has opened a preliminary investigation into the incident, based on a complaint it received Monday, according to spokeswoman Wendy Osborne.
The law firm's statement said that a female contract security guard discovered a noose on Feb. 9 near a parking garage on Lilly's campus. The release said nooses also were found at different Lilly facilities in 1996 and 2004.
A Lilly spokeswoman could not be reached immediately for comment. However, Lilly attorneys said in a court filing in November that, "Lilly has at all times exercised reasonable care to prevent harassing behavior and to respond promptly and appropriately to reports of alleged harassing behavior."
Rose & Rose called the latest incident a "hate crime." The attorneys said the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People also supports an FBI investigation.
In November, the NAACP joined the lawsuit filed by Rose & Rose. The NAACP also helped to stage a rally outside the federal courthouse in Indianapolis, where the lawsuit is pending.
The lawsuit claims to represent hundreds of Lilly employees who have faced racial hostility at Lilly.