Memphis Man Receives $12M in Lawsuit Against Former Employer Over Race and Age Discrimination
A Memphis man has been awarded nearly $12 million by a jury after he sued his former employer in a lawsuit alleging racial and age discrimination.
“All I knew was that I had to do something because of the situation,” said Victor Boddie, 64, who was fired from Chemours Company, formerly Dupont Chemicals in North Memphis, for taking a shower while working as a mechanic.
“I’ve had so many different jobs at Dupont, I’ve been a systems operator, operator and my last job there was a maintenance mechanic,” Boddie said of his tenure.
Hired by the company in 1980, Boddie last worked at Chemours as a mechanic when he was working outside at the chemical plant on a cold February 4th, 2019 and felt like he needed to warm up with a shower, but that ended his nearly four Decades of activity in the company abruptly.
“The reason he quit was because he was in the shower and his supervisor saw him in the shower and said, ‘You’re outside your work area,’ but Mr. Boddie’s work area was the entire facility because he was a mechanic,” he said Ralph Gibson, Boddie’s attorney.
Boddie says he felt terrible about being fired for something as trivial as taking a shower.
“When I was escorted out of the gate, I was just embarrassed,” Boddie said.
Shortly after the shock of being fired wore off, Boddie started thinking, and he realized there was more to his resignation because he says he was often treated differently at the job that led to his resignation.
“I was the oldest mechanic during that time and there weren’t that many black mechanics out there. We had a safety meeting every morning and when the work passed out they usually gave it to the younger mechanics, which really upset me,” said Boddie.
Just as Boddie was beginning to connect the dots that something was wrong with his firing, he hired attorney Ralph Gibson to help him figure it out.
“The employer’s alleged non-discriminatory reason for terminating the employee was actually a pretext for some form of discrimination, and in this case the basis of the discrimination was so ridiculous that it alone formed part of the jury’s verdict,” Gibson said.
On July 3, 2019, Boddie filed a lawsuit against Chemours Company over his termination based on race and age discrimination. The lawsuit alleges Chemours violated the Age, Discrimination Employment Act, which prohibits age discrimination against persons aged 40 and over. The lawsuit also accused Chemours of violating Section 1981 and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination in the workplace based on race, color, religion, sex and national origin.
Gibson says the company also failed to do any research before letting Boddie go.
“You didn’t conduct an investigation, you didn’t even interview Mr. Boddie before firing him, you didn’t conduct an investigation that you would specifically conduct for such a long-time employee,” he told Gibson.
In June, a jury found Boddie got a bad deal, agreeing that Chemours had wrongly fired him and awarded the 64-year-old nearly $12 million in damages.
“Claims were back, upfront and emotional damages and the jury found $1.763 million for what they did to Mr. Boddie. Then the second phase was punitive damages, and they found $10 million in punitive damages,” Gibson said.
“Having that process and letting it all come out, that’s why I felt validated,” Boddie said of the judges’ award.
The fight isn’t over for Boddie because Gibson says Chemours has filed a request for a new trial and is trying to appeal the jury’s decision, but both Gibson and Boddie are determined to fight to see the price of the Jury prize of nearly $12 million preserved.
“We are very confident that the jury acted fairly and we do not believe the jury’s verdict will be overturned,” Gibson said.
Boddie hopes his lawsuit sends a message to his former employer and other companies about treating people fairly and fairly.
“For me, that’s the bottom line: be fair to everyone,” Boddie said.
Atlanta Black Star has reached out to Chemours Company for comment on the multi-million dollar jury verdict, but has received no response.
https://atlantablackstar.com/2022/08/01/he-was-terminated-because-he-took-the-shower-memphis-man-awarded-12-million-in-lawsuit-against-employer-for-race-and-age-discrimination/ Memphis Man Receives $12M in Lawsuit Against Former Employer Over Race and Age Discrimination