Harvey Palacio was at work at the Intel plant in Rio Rancho, New Mexico when he became the target of a classic prank, a “Kick Me” sign on his back. As reported by KRQE News 13, the prank led to Intel HR and police involvement in September 2012, followed by a federal lawsuit when Palacio claimed that coworkers kicked him after one placed the sign on his back. When Palacio suspected something, he asked Randy Lehman, an Intel senior staffer if something was on his back. According to the lawsuit, "Lehman said turn around and as Palacio did he saw and heard (another employee) yell out 'Don't read it, just do it'." Court documents state that Lehman then kicked Palacio three times in the buttocks. After that, another coworker, Chris Zeltinger, was asked to help remove the sign, but instead kicked Palacio twice. The lawsuit stated that, "Palacio felt demoralized and assaulted and he began to cry during the drive home. He could not tell his wife because he was so embarrassed and ashamed." Lehman and Zeltinger were eventually fired, convicted of petty misdemeanor battery and ordered to perform 16 hours of community service. Lehman’s attorney, Diego Esquibel, apologized on his client’s behalf saying that he, “Is truly sorry for any shame, sadness or pain the victim felt and his actions were never meant to cause any of those things." Zeltinger did not comment.
Palacio, a 19 year Intel employee, said that he faced abuse for months. He claimed the coworker pranks included repeatedly filling his work bag with trash and hiding his clean room suit that he needed to complete his job. The lawsuit against Intel claims that Palacio was the victim of a pattern of racially motivated bullying because he is Filipino, and the company allowed the harassment to go on causing emotional distress. A spokesperson for Intel said that the company is reviewing the lawsuit and did not want to comment further.