Ravenna man files federal discrimination suit against former Twinsburg employer
A Ravenna man has filed a federal lawsuit against the parent company of his former Twinsburg employer, alleging he was discriminated against when he was fired this past September.
According to the complaint filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio in Akron on March 25, Bernard Starr is alleging that he was a victim of both age and disability discrimination under federal las and that North Carolina-based Cardinal Logistics Management Corp. violated its own policies when it fired him.
The company did not immediately respond to a phone message seeking comment.
According to the complaint, Starr was 78 at the time he was fired and had a heart stent surgically implanted in 1995. He initially began working as a truck driver for O’Reilly Auto Enterprises, LLC, which owns a distribution facility on Cornerstone Parkway in Twinsburg. When Cardinal took over O’Reilly’s freight delivery service in November 2019, Starr became a Cardinal employee. According to the complaint, Starr’s supervisor, who is not listed as a defendant in the lawsuit, began asking Starr about any retirement plans he might have.
Due to the heart stent, Ohio Department of Transportation regulations require that Starr undergo a heart stress test every two years in order to maintain his commercial driver’s license. In August 2020, Starr notified his supervisor of an appointment for a stress test scheduled for late September and when he did so, according to the complaint, it was the first time that Starr had put Cardinal “on notice” of his heart condition.
The complaint says that on Sept. 16, another vehicle cut in front of Starr’s truck causing Starr to “slam on the brakes,” activating a camera on board. Starr’s supervisor then accused Starr of using his cell phone while driving the truck, a violation of company policy, during the “near miss incident.”
The next day, Sept. 17, the supervisor “required Starr to sign a Final Written Warning for violating Cardinal’s cell phone policy,” the complaint says. Starr was told that after a year, the warning would be removed from his personnel record, but on Sept. 18, he was fired.
The complaint alleges that Cardinal had skipped steps in its own “Progressive Discipline Policy” before firing Starr — including prior verbal and written warnings and a suspension — and that it had followed these steps for younger, non-disabled employees. The complaint also maintains that “Starr had a strong history of performance with Cardinal,” had received consistent pay raises and “did not have any history of meaningful discipline.”
Starr initially filed a charge of discrimination against Cardinal with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. In January, the EEOC sent Starr a “Dismissal and Notice of Rights,” in which the EOC states that Starr has a right to sue Cardinal. It does not include, however, an opinion about Starr’s case.
According to the complaint, Starr is requesting that Cardinal rehire him and that it “expunge his personnel file of all negative documentation.” He is also requesting more than $25,000 in compensatory damages “for lost wages, emotional distress, and other consequential damages;” punitive damages, also more than $25,000; and an award for “reasonable attorneys’ fees” and other costs.
Reporter Jeff Saunders can be reached at email@example.com.