Petition to address racism at Verizon Wireless and re-hire Martin Hopkins

Hans Vestberg, Chairman and CEO, Verizon Communications

At Verizon Wireless, Martin Hopkins faced years of racist comments from managers and customers. How did company management respond? They fired him.

We are urging Verizon Wireless to reinstate Martin Hopkins’ employment at the Verizon Wireless store in Lancaster, and to institute implicit bias trainings for managers and employees across the corporation

To: Hans Vestberg, Chairman and CEO, Verizon Communications
From: [Your Name]

We are deeply concerned about the firing of Martin Hopkins, a sales solutions specialist at the Verizon Wireless store in Lancaster, Ohio, who had six years of stellar performance with the company. Martin Hopkins was the only worker of color in his store and faced frequent racist comments from managers and customers.

It is shocking that this pattern of conduct was allowed to continue despite Martin standing up for himself and alerting district management. The incidences included:
* When customers called him racially derogatory terms, like the N-word and “colored boy,” and refused to be served by him, management sent Martin to the back of the store and there were no consequences for customers.
* In May of this year, Martin says that the store temperature reached nearly 80 degrees. Martin pointed out that it was too hot, and his manager responded by telling him, "Deal with it, you could be outside breaking rocks!"
* When Martin was expecting the birth of his daughter, he excitedly told his coworkers that they would be like uncles to his soon-to-be-born daughter. A manager heard this and responded, “Why, are you going to jail?” This manager would call Martin a “thug,” or say, “I would be afraid to run into Martin in a dark alley.”
* Another manager at the store has a confederate flag tattooed on his chest. The symbol of the flag, combined with the manager’s behavior, raised red flags for Martin and his coworkers about whether this manager would take seriously issues of racism that arise in the store.

Martin is good at his job. Every six months, for six years, Martin has received the highest review possible. Martin has never been on any form of discipline before and has not had any customer complaints. In fact, he has developed relationships with many customers who would be willing to attest to his character. Given the record of conduct by management at Verizon Wireless, the only conclusion that Martin could reach considering an unblemished record and a history of providing exceptional customer service, is that the decision to fire him was based solely upon his race.

We call on Verizon to re-hire Martin Hopkins immediately and unconditionally. We also ask that the company implement in-person anti-racism training for the entire company. We have seen Verizon’s claim in media coverage that all employees receive anti-bias training. But this is directly contradicted by Martin and his coworkers, who say they never experienced such training.

If Verizon is committed to being an inclusive and anti-racist employer, we hope the company will stop making excuses and start taking serious action to remedy the injustice done in the case of Martin Hopkins and ensure it doesn’t happen to any other Verizon employees.