A black worker is appealing a federal court's dismissal of his racial discrimination case against Molded Materials Inc.
Larry Motley filed the lawsuit Dec. 21, 1995, in U.S. District Court in Detroit, claiming the Plymouth, Mich.-based rubber and plastics firm overlooked him for a promotion because he is black.
U.S. District Judge Denise Page Hood granted Molded Materials its motion for summary judgment March 31, accepting its argument that two white men were promoted over Motley because they had more experience.
``It is important to note [Motley] never suggested that the person chosen was less-qualified than himself,'' Hood said in her decision. ``In fact, the only qualification that [Motley] asserts surpasses that of the chosen candidate was his attendance record.''
Motley, who is representing himself, in July filed an appeal.
Russell Campbell, president of Molded Materials and a co-defendant in the suit, declined to comment on the case. The lawsuit also named Michael Wolfe, a production manager, as a co-defendant.
James E. Brenner, the lawyer who represents the firm, expects the appeals court to back Hood's decision, possibly within a year.
The lawsuit dates back to 1994 when Motley, hired in 1990, applied for an opening as an injection leader in the firm's molding department. Three other men —all white — also applied for the position, according to Brenner.
Molded Materials deemed one of the men ``overqualified'' and decided to keep the second-highest-qualified man, Bret McMahon, in its urethane/rubber department.
In the end, the firm promoted the third white candidate, Gregory Olds, saying he had worked in the injection department longer and had read the machinery manuals. Molded Materials increased Olds' hourly wages to $8.50, the same as Motley's at the time.
In response, Motley filed a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. EEOC dismissed the charge for lack of evidence, so Motley took his case to district court when EEOC informed him of his right to sue.
Motley, who still works for the company, said Molded Materials has a history of promoting white workers over black employees who have more experience. The only black employee in a supervisory position in 1994 was a quality control manager, according to both parties. The manager since has found employment at another company, Motley said.
Motley admits his case has been hampered by his inexperience in legal matters, but he insists he is making a difference at the small manufacturing firm.
After Motley contacted EEOC, Olds left the firm. Motley claims Molded Materials forced out Olds to make its case look better. Brenner said Olds left to take a supervisory position at another firm.
Olds had been absent more than Motley, according to the plaintiff. ``They couldn't justify keeping him in the position,'' Motley said.
McMahon then briefly filled the position, but Motley again claims the firm forced out McMahon because of his attendance. Brenner claims he left for another job.
Today, Molded Materials has four injection leader positions and has filled them with three black men and one woman of Native American descent, according to Brenner, who attributes the new hires to normal restructuring.
``I don't believe it's because we're trying to cover up something,'' he said.
Motley disagrees: ``After the lawsuit, a lot of things started changing for the better. I've made a big difference as far as black empowerment at Molded Materials.''