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Archive for Friday, October 3, 2003

Workers claim Goodyear retaliated after discrimination complaints filed

October 3, 2003

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— Two former Goodyear workers who are Hispanic allege in separate lawsuits that they were retaliated against after they complained about a hostile work environment.

Michael Mesa, 53, of Kansas City, filed suit late last month in Jackson County Circuit Court. Andy Gutierrez, 29, also of Kansas City, filed suit earlier this year in U.S. District Court in Kansas City.

Both suits name as the defendant Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. based in Akron, Ohio.

Mesa and Gutierrez are seeking unspecified damages.

The lawsuits allege the men's hours were reduced more so than the hours of their non-minority co-workers after they complained about racist remarks made at the North Kansas City store where they worked. The men eventually were fired after they filed complaints with the U.S. Equal Opportunities Commission, the lawsuits claim.

Gutierrez's attorney, Heidi Moyer, said a third Hispanic employee who didn't continue pursuing the matter was promoted.

"Our position," Moyer said, "is Andy and Mike were retaliated against because they continued to complain."

Chuck Sinclair, a Goodyear spokesman, said he was not familiar with case specifics.

"All I can say at this point is certainly Goodyear holds its employees to the highest standards when it comes to issues of discrimination," Sinclair said.

Mesa's suit alleges a store manager referred to Hispanic workers derogatorily as "a bunch of Mexicans" around May 2002. The suit also alleges the manager made racist remarks about the store's black customers.

When the store's minority workers voiced their concerns in a letter to Goodyear management, Gutierrez's suit alleges the company instituted a "questionable investigation."

"Rather than focusing on the racist and illegal behavior of the manager," the suit says, "the investigation focused on defendant's accusations of workplace violations by the employees who reported the discrimination."

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