Accusation of racism at construction site triggers lawsuit

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In an exclusive story, 13 Investigates got its hands on a lawsuit that claims racial slurs were made against a Black man while he was working on a construction site last year in Albany. The words that were allegedly said to him by a higher-up are shocking.

“That was a tough one to swallow. It was a tough one to swallow,” Corey Joye said.

Joye is a proud man. He takes his job seriously as a construction worker. He’s been doing this for about seven years.

Until now, Joye said he’s never been told something like this.

“He said, ‘You colored. All the colored people here, go through the door right there on the side,’” Joye said. “I put the shovel down, and I said, ‘Nobody ever talk to me like that a day in my life.’”

“Certain things you just can’t let go.”

Corey Joey

Joye said he accepted a job from his union last September to work with AJS Masonry Inc. and Rosenblum Development Corporation. He said it was to build an apartment complex at 745 Broadway in Albany.

“They needed somebody to drive machinery…delivering, offload, onload trucks and stuff like that,” he said.

Joye said it was the second day on the job, and everyone was ready to eat lunch. Some of them wanted to heat their food. Joye said he and another employee, who is white, were told there was a microwave inside a trailer on site. They asked to use it. That’s when he said those racist comments were made by Jim Shellenberger, the then-superintendent at Rosenblum Development.

This lawsuit was filed on Jan. 23, 2023 against Rosenblum Development, AJS Masonry Inc. and Shellenberger.

“Nobody never talk to me like that,” Joye said.

Joye said Shellenberger and a few other employees started laughing when that comment was made. Until Joye said he told them it wasn’t funny and Shellenberger tried to apologize.

Then Joye left.

“I got in my car and I just drove off. I was tight. I wasn’t even sweating the whole time I was working. I was sweating bullets when I left because I had to hold that in,” Joye said.

Joye never went back to the job site. He said the whole incident made him feel depressed.

“You encounter certain things, and you let certain things go, but then it’s like, certain things you just can’t let go, like mentally,” he said.

“I just don’t want this happening to nobody else. I don’t care who you are.”

Corey Joye

Joye said he can’t shake what was said to him. The lawsuit said Joye suffered emotional distress. It’s also filed under the Civil Rights Act. He’s also seeking $1 million.

“I just don’t want this happening to nobody else. I don’t care who you are,” he said.

“I’m educated. I’m smart,” Joye said. “I’m just trying to do right by God. I’ve got five kids. I got mixed children. I don’t want this happening to none of them.”

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AJS Masonry Inc. has not responded to our inquiry for comment after 13 Investigates reached out several times.

Rosenblum Development sent this full statement: “Upon learning of this troubling allegation, we immediately launched a swift but thorough investigation. The employee who was the subject of the complaint was terminated. We have zero tolerance for discrimination or harassment of any kind at our workplaces and worksites, which strikes against the inclusive culture we are committed to at Rosenblum.”

Rosenblum Development did offer an apology through Joye’s attorney for the situation, out of good faith.

Shellenberger was fired about two weeks after the alleged incident happened.