Lawsuit: Former Benjamin Moore Worker Claims Certain Paint Names Are “Racially Offensive”

Paintbrush, can are unrelated to the story. (Fujoshi)

Paintbrush, can are unrelated to the story. (Fujoshi)

While in some cases it might be pretty cool to have a paint color named after you, an African-American former worker for Benjamin Moore claims in a new lawsuit that the company fired him after he complained about paint colors that seemed to be named after him.

The New Jersey man says in the suit that Benjamin Moore had “despicable and racially insulting paint colors” that in two cases, paired his first and last names separately with “brown” and “chocolate,” reports Courthouse News (via

So for example, if his name is Joe Smith, the names were Joe Brown and Smith Chocolate — but his name is not as common as that.

He claims in the lawsuit that when he started working at the company in June 2011 in its Digital Marketing department, “it was clear to the plaintiff that he was not part of the traditional culture” of the company.

The first problems started, he says, during the launch of a certain campaign, where one of the colors in it was his last name plus Chocolate. As that was part of his name and he’s a black man, “the plaintiff found this to be extremely racially offensive” and that “when this was mentioned at a meeting with at least eight people including his supervisor, this was met with awkward silence.”

There’s another color that he says a fellow employee pointed out to him that combines his first name and Brown, and that the other worker allegedly “thought it was funny.”

After complaining at other times and openly expressing his repeated disdain to the offensive color names, he claims “no action was ever taken by Benjamin Moore to change the names of these colors and they remain on Benjamin Moore’s web site and are still sold on the open market with these racially offensive names.”

His lawsuit also alleges that he was passed over for promotions due to his race, and wasn’t getting paid overtime. He’s claiming wrongful termination in March 2014, when he was fired but Benjamin Moore retained his “two white, blonde-haired and blue-eyed subordinates.”

He’s seeking damages for discrimination, retaliation and a hostile work environment; Benjamin Moore hasn’t publicly commented on the lawsuit.

*Thanks for the tip, R.G.

Fired Worker Finds Paint Names Offensive [Courthouse News]

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.