Ex-employee sues Advanced Drainage
A former employee of Advanced Drainage Systems Inc., based in Columbus, Ohio, has sued the company for more than $2.35 million for age discrimination, intentional infliction of emotional distress and slander.
Kenneth W. Keller Jr., 53, who worked as lead foreman at ADS' Montezuma, Ga., polyethylene pipe plant, is alleging ADS managers concocted a number of false disciplinary charges before firing him on June 16, six days after Keller had returned to work following heart surgery.
Keller's suit alleges he was fired so ADS could replace him with a younger person with less seniority in the company. Keller had worked at ADS for 28 years prior to his firing. His replacement had worked for the company for 15 years.
The suit, which was filed March 21 in U.S. District Court in Macon, Ga., also alleges ADS has a ``history of firing or forcing the resignation of older employees.''
Keller's law firm, Almand & Wiggins of Macon, has produced a list of 50-60 people it says have knowledge of discriminatory practices at the company.
Company officials could not be reached for comment. The company has 60 days from the filing date to file its legal response.
ADS claims to be the world's largest extruder of corrugated PE pipe with 20 manufacturing plants and 32 distribution centers. Plastics News ranked the firm as the fourth-largest North American maker of all types of plastic pipe with $206 million in estimated sales in 1995.
Arson blames in Empire Marble fire
JACKSONVILLE, FLA. — A blaze that fire authorities say was caused by arson destroyed the cultured marble plant of Empire Marble Inc. March 27. One firefighter was injured slightly when a truck trailer of 55-gallon drums filled with acetone exploded.
The company expects to be back in production at a different location by mid-April, said vice president Andrew Morris. He said the company's line of bulk molding compound products includes vanities, bathtubs and showers.
Morris said Empire Marble believes a disgruntled employee started the fire. The company expects the cost of the damage to reach about $1 million.
Investor may rescue Empire of Carolina
DELRAY BEACH, FLA. — Empire of Carolina Inc. is negotiating with an undisclosed investor that could acquire control of the financially troubled Delray Beach toy firm.
The company said March 31 that the investor has a nonbinding letter of intent to buy $50 million worth of convertible stock and debentures that it could convert into a majority of Empire's common stock.
Empire hopes to complete the deal by April 30, when it needs to pay $6 million under a senior loan agreement. If the transaction doesn't go through, Empire said it cannot assure investors that it will have enough cash flow from operations to continue.
Earlier this year, that firm said it will outsource more of its molding needs offshore, reducing reliance on its large plastics plant in Tarboro, N.C. It blamed Tarboro's production problems last year for some of its financial woes. In January Empire hired investment bankers to evaluate its strategic alternatives, including a sale of all or part of the company.
Empire reported a net loss of $46.2 million for the year ended Dec. 31. Last year's sales at $148.9 million were down about 3 percent. Sales plummeted in the fourth quarter to $42.8 million, 30 percent off the 1995 period.
Critics targeting ATP for elimination
WASHINGTON — In the second recent Congressional attack on the Advanced Technology Program, the House Science Committee is calling for the program to be eliminated because much of the research it funds would have been paid entirely by the private sector.
The Science Committee's ``Views and Estimates'' report comes as a key House budget official said March 20 that the program should be eliminated. The House delivered its report the same day.
``The Department of Commerce has shown only anecdotal evidence that ATP has yielded any benefit to U.S. competitiveness,'' the report said. The General Accounting Office, the investigative arm of Congress, found that half of ATP recipients probably would have pursued research without the ATP grants, the report said. ATP has funded about $70 million in composites research since the early 1990s.
ATP officials have defended the program and said it helps to fund research that many companies would not undertake on their own.
The House report also said the Manufacturing Extension Partnership, which provides manufacturing advice to small businesses, should be continued.