Stacey Fowler, 53, held a senior position at AT&T Ohio following her recent termination. The lawsuit was filed in late September against AT&T Inc., AT&T Midwest, and Ohio Bell Telephone Company.
Fowler served as an employee at AT&T Ohio’s Construction and Engineering Department for more than 32 years, according to the filing. In 2021, she was promoted to Director of Access — which the lawsuit noted is a white, male-dominated department — and received positive performance reviews throughout her career.
On March 30, 2023, when Fowler returned to her office after spending hours in meetings with area managers, she found an offensive note with her business card stapled to it, the complaint said.
“YOU STUPID NI***R BITCH. IF WE CAN’T TAKE YOU DOWN WILL TAKE YOU OUT,” the letter said, a photo in the lawsuit shows. Her job title was also scratched out on the business card.
According to the complaint, Fowler contacted her supervisor and the company’s asset protection unit to report the threat. She was instructed to work from home amid an investigation and to file a police report, which she completed on April 1. However, it took weeks before she heard back from the team.
On April 11, she was informed by an investigator that he collected three witness statements and tipped off about the employee who potentially wrote the note. He also told her to sign a formal document relating to her claim. Days later, she was called into a meeting and fired based on a separate reverse discrimination investigation.
“Rather than hold a single person responsible for this cowardly racist act, AT&T protected the racists, fulfilled their wishes, and fired Fowler instead—mere weeks after Fowler was threatened. Then, AT&T replaced Fowler with a white male,” the lawsuit stated. “In doing so, AT&T made clear that it would go above and beyond to protect white males at the expense of minorities and females in general, and Fowler, in particular.”
The reverse discrimination investigation came before Fowler’s firing. In November 2022, she was ordered to ax about 25 percent of her team, according to the lawsuit, mostly low-ranking managers. With little assistance from the company, she allowed the Area Managers to select which roles to reduce and supported their decision, which was finalized in February 2023.
The lawsuit says one of the area managers told a group of terminated employees that she chose “to terminate them because they are white men” and, against company policy, gave them “confidential managerial documents.” That’s when one of the terminated employees filed the reverse discrimination claim.
The probe was opened, and the team investigated Fowler’s emails and interrogated her — although she made them aware that she did not make any decision on the terminations. She explained that the area managers, who are white men, had the final say.
The filing accuses AT&T of working swiftly to look into the reverse discrimination claim and “did not treat the vicious and vile, racist and misogynistic Death Threat that Fowler reported with any urgency or gravity.”
Speaking to the Daily Beast, Fowler said she’s disappointed with how the company handled the situation.
“They didn’t care about my psychological well-being, any of that,” she told the outlet. “I just felt like nobody really took me seriously. Nobody really cared.”
In a statement to the publication, an AT&T spokesperson condemned the letter, adding that they could not find the culprit. However, the rep noted that Fowler was let go because she “violated company policy.”
“We do not discriminate or do we tolerate discrimination of any kind, including based on race or any other factor,” the statement to The Daily Beast said. “Any suggestion that we do is just wrong, and we intend to fight this lawsuit.”
Never miss a story — sign up for ATLANTA BLACK STAR’S free daily newsletters to stay up-to-date on the latest developments, from top news headlines to celebrity news.