John Suayan, Galveston Bureau Feb. 25, 2013, 3:41pm

HOUSTON - Harris County resident James Hinga alleges MIC Group LLC forced him to resign because of his age and race, recent court documents say.

A lawsuit filed Feb. 15 in the Houston Division of the Southern District of Texas calls the defendant's actions toward Hinga, 76, "unlawful."

Hinga was hired as a machinist with Dresser Inc., the respondent's predecessor, in 1988, 15 years after he arrived in the United States from Kenya.

After changing employers via outsourcing and a sale, Hinga found his way into MIC.

Hinga claims that in October 2010, the company investigated a customer complaint in response to one of its ignition/explosive proof products, the Nema 7, and management blamed the problem on him.

The suit states the plaintiff admitted he did not inspect the units involved in accordance with company engineering specifications and marked them as "good," but it was determined he was not the only one responsible for the recall.

However, according to the original petition, MIC singled Hinga out for dismissal while sparing his younger co-workers, who are white.

At the end of the investigation, the defendant gave him the option of resigning or facing termination.

Hinga says he chose to resign as he was allowed to keep his health benefits, which were necessary given his wife had a pending medical procedure, but argues his move was an actual termination since "the totality of events surrounding the circumstances for separation was insufficient to motivate discharge and, therefore, a mere pretext as to the true reason for separation."

A jury trial is requested.

Attorney Athill Muhammad of Houston is representing the complainant.

Case No. 4:13-CV-434

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