David Yates Apr. 6, 2015, 2:59pm


Jury election began Monday in a civil trial against American Valve & Hydrant Manufacturing – a racial discrimination trial that seeks an award of $1 million in punitive damages.

Alleging discrimination and retaliation, Dennis Dumes, an African American, filed suit against American Cast Iron Pipe and American Valve on Nov. 29, 2012, in Jefferson County District Court.

Court records show American Cast Iron Pipe was dismissed from the suit in December, leaving American Valve as the sole defendant.

According to the second amended petition, the defendants have employed Dumes for more than 20 years, during which he has received good work performance reviews.

He alleges that throughout his career, the companies repeatedly promoted caucasians over him and even disqualified him from a potential position because of a false document in his personal file.

“Based on information and belief in the past 27 years, defendants have promoted only two black employees from a union position to a company position at the Beaumont location,” the suit states. “There have been at least ten positions filled within that time. Some of the vacancies were not posted but were given to other employees.”

After Dumes filed a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in 2010, he was given an overall negative performance evaluation.

“Defendants’ reasons for failing to promote or transfer Dumes are pretextual, manufactured to conceal unlawful discrimination, harassment and retaliation,” the suit states.

Dumes is seeking damages in excess of $1 million.

Houston attorney Victoria Plante-Northington represents him.

American Valve is represented by Mehaffy Webber attorney M.C. Carrington.

Judge Milton Shuffield, 136th District Court, is presiding over the case.

Case No. D193-651

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