Are Benjamin Moore's Paint Names Racist?

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When you create hundreds of what is essentially the same shade of taupe, coming up with different names must be exhausting. But paint company Benjamin Moore may have run out of both creative juice and moral wherewithal when it allegedly named two shades of brown paint after one of Benjamin Moore's black employees, Clinton Tucker. Two shades of Benjamin Moore paint are named "Tucker chocolate" and "Clinton brown." Wow. Maybe you should have just stuck with "King Arthur's court."

New Jersey resident Clinton Tucker filed a discrimination suit in Essex County for what he says were "extremely racially offensive" paint names and other instances of discrimination in the work place. Tucker started at Benjamin Moore's digital marketing department in June 2011, but according to the filling — obtained by Courthouse News Service — it "became clear to the plaintiff that he was not part of the traditional culture." Clinton says that while he was launching the online arm of Benjamin Moore's Main Street Matters campaign, the company released a color called "Tucker chocolate" in its Williamsburg collection.

When Tucker brought the offensive name up in a meeting, his grievance was met "with awkward silence." Later, a coworker alerted Tucker that Benjamin Moore also carried "Clinton brown," a fact that they somehow thought would be funny to point out.

To be fair, the collection also has a "tucker orange" and "tucker gray" in the mix, so it could be playing into a theme. But when an employee brings up the fact that it makes him irreparably uncomfortable, maybe you just change the name of the stupid paint swatch. It's paint, people. And you're making someone the brunt of a joke. Not to mention Benjamin Moore already has a paint in the lovely, racist hue of "confederate red," which the website describes it as "a timeless and enduring classic." Yeah, that's a real thing.

In the 16-page filing suit Tucker also claims that he was demoted while his coworkers steadily climbed the ladder, and that he his request to take off MLK Day was ignored. Benjamin Moore has been tight-lipped about the suit, making no public comments thus far. Tucker's filing notes that while he was fired in March, two of his "white, blonde-haired and blue-eyed subordinates" were kept on staff.

Moral of the story? Never again will I roll my eyes when the shade of gray that I want is called "elephant ear."

Images: Benjamin Moore