DETROIT -- A former Fiat Chrysler manager who oversaw the automaker’s work-force diversity efforts has filed a federal suit alleging that the automaker systematically discriminates against nonunion African-American supervisors.
Marlin G. Williams was terminated Jan. 3 after she gave FCA two weeks’ notice on Jan. 2 of her intention to resign, according to the suit, which was filed last week in U.S. District Court in Detroit. Williams had been diversity manager at FCA since September 2015, the suit says. The lawsuit, which seeks class-action status, was first reported by the Detroit Free Press.
In the suit, Williams alleges that in her role as diversity manager, she discovered a pattern in the company’s annual employee evaluation process that showed that African-American managers were being “rated with lower scores at a disproportionate alarming rate” compared to others at their management level. The suit alleges that she was among those African-American managers whose performance was downgraded in the second step of FCA’s two-step evaluation process.
The suit says that of “hundreds of company-wide directors, there are only two African-American female directors and approximately only five to seven African-American male directors.”
The suit alleges that after reporting the pattern of discrimination she discovered, Williams was retaliated against and was “ostracized and essentially excommunicated from her colleagues and upper management.”
An FCA spokeswoman didn’t return a call for comment. However, in a written statement to the Free Press, the automaker said:
“The allegations contained in this lawsuit are without merit. FCA US does not tolerate harassment or discrimination of any kind in the workplace based on a person’s race, color, sex, sexual orientation, age, etc. All claims of harassment and discrimination are investigated thoroughly and in a timely manner, and all violations are punishable up to and including termination. FCA US will pursue a vigorous defense of this challenge to its record and reputation.”