paintBenjamin Moore & Co. is an American paint company. A former Benjamin Moore Manager, Clinton Tucker, alleges that the Company is marketing paints with racially insensitive names – his two names as a matter of fact. Tucker claims that Benjamin Moore’s Clinton Brown and Tucker Chocolate paint colors refer to him and that he was fired for complaining about the paint colors. The Company responded with a countersuit against Tucker alleging, among other claims, defamation, trade libel and tortious interference.

Filing counterclaims against a plaintiff in an employment discrimination case is not the usual response, as it could be argued that unsupported counterclaims are a form of retaliation. Clearly Benjamin Moore feels strongly that it has been wronged. It states in its counterclaim, that Tucker filed his suit with a malicious intent, with the purpose of extorting money from Benjamin Moore and defaming and damaging the Company’s business reputation.

The defamation counterclaim alleges that Tucker and/or his agents made a knowingly false statement to the media, not contained in the complaint, that the Clinton Brown and Tucker Chocolate paint colors were named after him. Not true says Benjamin Moore.

Its counterclaim states that the paint names in question are being marketed in conjunction with the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. (The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation is responsible for the restoration and preservation of Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia). View the full line of Williamsburg colors.

Benjamin Moore alleges that Tucker Chocolate is named for Saint George Tucker, a prominent 18th century Williamsburg scholar and lawyer who fought in the Revolutionary War. Benjamin Moore argues that both the Tucker and the Clinton paint colors were being sold before Clinton Tucker was hired.

This case shows how even seemingly innocuous everyday business decisions can be used “to paint” a company in a potentially racist light. Anyone named “Navajo White” out there ? (See color 947)