Federal lawsuit: Macon man claims racism behind firing from welding job

mstucka@macon.comNovember 19, 2013 

A Macon man is suing his former employer at Plant Scherer, alleging he was fired because of racism after he was threatened at his job site.

In a federal lawsuit filed Friday in Macon, Harold V. Barnes claims supervisors at Transportation Services International fired him after he left TSI’s railroad car repair site at Plant Scherer after a co-worker threatened him with a bottle. He is suing TSI and the supervisors but not Plant Scherer or its operators and owners.

That co-worker is not a defendant in the lawsuit, although it says the man hit Barnes with a glass bottle and told him that he “would not make it home alive.” According to the complaint, because Barnes knew the man had “previously brought a gun on the premises, Mr. Barnes feared for his safety and left the premises immediately following the altercation on November 18, 2010.”

Later that day, TSI’s Plant Scherer manager, James A. Butler Jr., called to tell him he was fired from his job as a welder because of the altercation, according to the suit. Barnes said he tried multiple times to tell his side of the story to Butler and foreman Bill Moody, but they refused to listen.

The man who attacked him kept his job and may not have been punished at all, the complaint said.

Barnes is black, while Butler, Moody and the alleged attacker are white. The lawsuit says Barnes filed a discrimination charge through the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which gave him a right-to-sue letter in August.

The lawsuit contends that Barnes was treated unfairly because of his race, fired in part because of his race, and that his former employers also gave preferential treatment for promotions and work.

Barnes is seeking damages including back pay, compensatory pay and legal costs.

TSI, Butler and Moody have not yet responded to the lawsuit.

The company president did not respond to a request for comment.

To contact writer Mike Stucka, call 744-4251.

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