Racial Discrimination Suit Against Jeld-Wen Changes VenueDecember 5th, 2022 by Travis Rains
Attorneys for defendant Jeld-Wen d/b/a MMI Door last week removed a case from an Ohio court of common pleas in Hamilton County to the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio. In an amended complaint, plaintiff Richard Harris alleges racial discrimination against MMI Door, with the latter’s attorneys arguing that the development raises a federal question.
The plaintiff, a former employee of MMI, alleges in court documents filed in July 2022 that an issue arose in October 2021 involving employees not working at the end of the production line. Harris reportedly complained about the issue to his trainer, defendant “Arthur,” who “became enraged with him,” according to court documents filed by Harris. Harris, an African American, had also expressed concerns to Arthur, also an African American, that MMI only hired Caucasian people to managerial positions.
Harris alleges multiple occurrences of threats of violence from Arthur and subsequent complaints to management. Harris eventually filed an official report, and said in court documents that MMI had ignored his complaints. Not long after, Harris says he was called into another meeting where he was accused of calling a Caucasian coworker a “racist.” Harris denied the accusation. Harris was terminated approximately 11 days later, according to his filed complaint.
“Notably, if Harris had reported (the employee) for racism, this would have been a protected complaint,” read court documents filed by the plaintiff. “This shows MMI’s racial animus against Harris – he was fired for allegedly accusing someone of racism rather than the company investigating the alleged unlawful racism.”
Originally, Harris alleged wrongful termination and violation of Ohio whistleblower statutes with respect to MMI. In his second amended complaint, however, Harris also alleges retaliatory discrimination and racial discrimination. Court documents filed by the plaintiff allege that MMI treated Harris differently than other employees “based upon his race.”
Attorneys for the defendants argue that those additions to the complaint result in the raising of a federal question. Therefore, they say, the district court has jurisdiction.