Man awarded $23,000 for bias in 1991 firing

September 21, 1994|By Howard Libit | Howard Libit,Sun Staff Writer

The Howard County Human Rights Commission has awarded more than $23,000 to a Randallstown man who was fired three years ago by Waste Management of Maryland Inc.

The commission found that Calvin Drummond, 39, a former driver for the company, was discriminated against by the solid waste and recycling company because he is black.

Waste Management's "discrimination was embodied in its termination of [Mr. Drummond] for having too many accidents, when similarly situated white employees were not investigated or terminated for their actions," the commission said in its decision, which was dated July 22 but not released to the public until Monday.

"This unlawful disparate treatment manifested itself in the generally more favorable treatment accorded white drivers than black drivers, in terms of the investigation, determination of chargeability and/or discipline regarding drivers' accidents at Waste Management during the period of 1990 and 1991," the decision said.

The company denies that it discriminated against Mr. Drummond and has asked Howard County Circuit Court to review the commission's decision.

Mr. Drummond worked as a mechanic for Waste Management from 1986 until February 1991, when he was transferred to become a recycle route driver, according to the decision. From March 8, 1991, to Aug. 5, 1991, Mr. Drummond had six accidents while driving a front-end loader. He was fired Aug. 5 for having too many accidents, just four days after having been awarded a 4 percent merit-based pay raise, the decision said.

Waste Management did have a clear, written policy on vehicle accidents, stating that "any employee with two chargeable accidents in a six-month period will be discharged."

But during seven days of hearings between November 1993 and March 1994, the commission found that "there was a pattern at Waste Management of differing application of the accident policies between black and white employees at the time of Mr. Drummond's employment."

Specifically, the commission documented the cases of at least nine white drivers who, having also violated the company's vehicle accident policy, received little or no discipline.

"I was very pleased with the award," said Mr. Drummond, who had initially been seeking $92,000. "My main concern was not the money but the aspect of justice."

The commission's $23,364.94 award is for uncovered medical expenses incurred when Mr. Drummond lost his health insurance coverage as well as the difference in pay between the job at Waste Management and lower-paying jobs he had until January 1993.

He subsequently found a different, higher-paying job as a mechanic for a Baltimore street-sweeping company.

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