Feds Sue Elevator Factory for Race Discrimination

June 30, 2003 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - The federal anti-discrimination agency has charged in a federal court lawsuit that a Tennessee elevator factory owned by a German company discriminated against and illegally fired black workers because of their race.

The US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) said it filed the suit against ThyssenKrupp Elevator Manufacturing Inc.’s Middleton factory in US District Court in Memphis, according to an Associated Press report. ThyssenKrupp is a division of Dusseldorf, Germany-based ThyssenKrupp AG, one of the world’s biggest technology groups, with about 191,000 employees worldwide. The factory, formerly run by Dover Elevator, employs 800 to 900 workers.

The lawsuit grew out of a discrimination charge filed by Timothy Robinson, a certified welder who worked for ThyssenKrupp from October until December 2001. Robinson says his lead man hid his gloves, wrapped wire around his tools, tried to burn him, claimed that President Abraham Lincoln’s freeing of slaves was a mistake, and laughed when a co-worker called Robinson a racial epithet.

The EEOC says ThyssenKrupp relied upon false and biased reports from the lead man and discharged Robinson because of his race. According to the EEOC’s investigation, blacks were denied jobs and promotions, and the few who were hired were sometimes fired for false or trivial reasons.

The agency will be reviewing hiring, promotion and discharge practices at the plant from two years before Robinson’s complaint was filed up to the present. A trial could be nine to 18 months away, or longer, said Tom Borek, EEOC senior trial attorney.