A 53-year-old African-American man is suing Pilkington North America, claiming he was fired from his job as fork truck operator because of his age, race and disability.
In papers filed last month with the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, Roscoe Morris charges that a “near-miss” incident in which he allegedly nearly struck a co-worker was an excuse for Pilkington to fire him from a job he had held since 1977. Morris, a Toledo resident, says his work on the job had been exemplary and denies that any such driving incident ever occurred.
Citing “diminished earning capacity and great mental and emotional stress, anxiety, humiliation and embarrassment,” Morris wants a jury to award him compensation for “lost past and future wages and benefits, punitive general damages all in an amount exceeding $25,000” in damages, according to court documents.
Both Francis J. Landry, the Toledo-based attorney representing Morris, and Robert C. Ludolph, the Southfield, Michigan-based attorney for Pilkington, declined comment when reached at their respective offices on Friday morning. Roberta Steedman, internal communications manager for Pilkington North America, also declined to comment, as the case is still pending.
Morris, who says he suffers from high blood pressure problems, was suspended on September 27, 2012, and later fired following an investigation into the alleged “near-miss” incident involving the fork truck he was driving. Pilkington North America officials have denied that racism or Morris’ age or health condition had anything to do with the final decision, saying that Morris was let go because of “legitimate, non-discriminatory, non-retaliatory reasons,” according to court papers filed by Ludolph.
Morris insists the “near-miss” never happened and that “younger similarly situated employees were more favorably treated and remained in their positions, despite actually engaging in a near-miss or causing an accident,” according to court documents.
Morris says that he “was meeting and exceeding” all expectations as a fork truck driver prior to his dismissal and rated as himself as “a highly-rated and skilled employee.” Despite the alleged high blood pressure that at times bothered his breathing, Morris says he was always able to “safely and substantially” perform the functions of his job without extra accommodations.
“The reason provided for my termination was false and pretextual because I did not ‘nearly miss’ a fellow employee,” Morris alleges in court papers. “Furthermore, even if I did have a ‘near miss,” such an incident is not cause for termination on the first occurrence, and other employees have retained their positions after having a ‘near-miss’ or even have retained their positions after an actual safety accident.”
Stay tuned to www.USGNN.com™ for more on the case as it becomes available.