Jon Campisi Sep. 25, 2013, 9:25am


A Delaware man who worked as a driver for a Pennsylvania-based oil delivery company has filed a federal civil rights complaint against the business over claims that he was discriminated against because of his race.

Timothy Matthews, who resides in Wilmington, filed suit late last week against Taylor Oil Company Inc., which is based in Folcroft, Delaware County.

Matthews claims the company, which employs sales personnel to distribute on-site fueling services to construction crews, contractors, boats and marinas up and down the East Coast, always gave him the “worst truck, the worst and most physically demanding route,” and never put the plaintiff on a regular schedule on account of the plaintiff’s race.

Matthews, who is black and began his work as a delivery driver for Taylor Oil in early August 2012, was then “pretextually” laid off from his job after the defendant hired two white drivers to take over for the plaintiff.

The complaint lists a number of ways in which Matthews asserts he was discriminated against, such as having had a route taken away from him and given to a new white employee in mid-August of last year shortly after his hiring.

In early September of last year, the suit states, Matthews filled out a union application and gave it to the shop steward to be turned into the union the following day.

About a week after filling out the paperwork, Matthews stopped by the union hall in Chester, Pa., to check to see the status of the application, the complaint states.

A secretary informed the plaintiff she couldn’t find the application, and didn’t recall the shop steward dropping it off for processing.

Soon, however, Matthews received a call from the union’s president who told the plaintiff he was now a union member, and assured him the union would support Matthews with any issues he had with Taylor Oil, the complaint states.

In early October of last year, a man identified as Robert Phillips, who was the same company representative who brought Matthews aboard in early August of that year, hired a white driver to take on one of the plaintiff’s routes.

About two weeks later, Phillips informed Matthews what Phillips was going to say to the plaintiff during a meeting that was scheduled to take place two days later, the suit states.

What Phillips planned to say during the meeting, complaint states, is that Matthews would be laid off due to lack of work.

This was despite the fact the company had hired two white drivers after Matthews’ hiring who would continue to work with overtime pay.

On Oct. 16, 2012, a dispatcher told Matthews that there would be no more work for the plaintiff, the lawsuit reads.

Two days later, Matthews met with the union head, who agreed to file a grievance for racial discrimination with Taylor Oil.

Matthews also said he was going to grieve other company violations, such as the fact he was discharged in order to “deliberately obstruct him from benefiting from the collective bargaining agreement,” the lawsuit states.

The union head had assured Matthews for weeks that the plaintiff was a member of the union even though the company had not yet deducted union dues from the plaintiff’s paycheck.

Matthews was eventually laid off from his job in the exact manner that had earlier been predicted, according to the complaint.

Matthews claims he was intentionally discriminated against as a result of his race, and that Taylor Oil denied the plaintiff the benefits of the contractual relationship he had entered or sought to enter with the defendant.

The lawsuit seeks to have a judge order the defendant to stop discriminating against employees on the basis of race.

Matthews seeks front and back pay and benefits, actual damages, punitive damages, attorney’s fees and litigation costs.

He is represented by Penndel, Pa. attorney Timothy M. Kolman, of the firm Kolman Ely, who filed the complaint Sept. 20 at the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

The federal case number is 2:13-cv-05520-NIQA.

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