It’s safe to say that Victor Sheppard was in shock when he was given a noose as a gift one day. He was so taken aback that he refused to return to work after his employer, the Mosner Family Brands, chose to maintain their relationship with the client who made the cruel joke.
The New York Daily News reports that Joe Ottomanelli, the owner of Ottomanelli & Sons Meat Market, gave Sheppard the noose as a “gift” on April 5th during a delivery and said, “You can put it around your neck and pull if you want to end it all.”
“If you are feeling stressed out I can help you with it,” Ottomanelli allegedly continued.
Sheppard told his employers what happened but said he couldn’t come back in both because of the trauma of the event and Mosner’s decision.
“I could have lost my life or been badly injured or in jail, and it didn’t mean anything to them,” Sheppard said.
“It’s not easy returning to an environment where you mean nothing.”
Michael Mosner, Sheppard’s employer, claims that he offered to give him free counseling and take him off of the delivery route so that he’d never have to encounter Ottomanelli again. However, Sheppard’s refusal to come into work at all reportedly led to his termination.
Mosner is still coming under fire for only taking a half-measure to protect his employees from harm and not condemning racism.
“Victor could not return to that environment,” said Sheppard’s attorney, Wylie Stecklow. “His employer knew exactly what happened and was supportive but they never stopped doing business with Ottomanelli.”
Ottomanelli is now set to go to court for hate crime charges in September.