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Lilly said to 'regret' delay in noose incident

May 28, 2008
Eli Lilly and Co.'s director of global security said in a company newsletter that he regrets that Lilly officials did not immediately report the discovery of an alleged noose hanging in a tree on its corporate campus in Indianapolis, according to a statement issued yesterday by a law firm that is suing Lilly for racial discrimination.

Two months ago, Rose & Rose, a Washington, D.C., law firm representing current and former black Lilly employees, announced that a contract security guard had discovered the noose in February.

Not until March did Lilly and the Indianapolis office of the FBI open a preliminary investigation into the incident.

"We regret that this delay occurred," said Bob Reilley, Lilly's security director, in a recent company newsletter, according to the law firm's statement.

Rose & Rose represents four plaintiffs who first accused Lilly of racial discrimination and hostility in a lawsuit filed in 2006 in federal court in Indianapolis. The suit claims to represent hundreds of Lilly employees who have faced similar treatment at Lilly.

In March, the company issued a statement about the lawsuit saying, "Lilly has thoroughly investigated the allegations that the four original plaintiffs made against the company, and we believe their lawsuit is without merit. Our nondiscrimination policy is unequivocal - this conduct is not tolerated under any circumstance."

In a statement to IBJ today, Lilly's vice president of global diversity, Patty Martin, said its internal investigation found no evidence of any Lilly employee being involved with the rope.

T
he rope was found at Delaware and McCarty streets, an area open to the public, Martin noted.

"We cooperated fully with the FBI investigation," Martin said. "We do not believe that the FBI's inquiry uncovered evidence of any violation of federal law by anyone connected with Lilly."
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