Kelly Holleran Aug. 12, 2014, 11:59am

A man has filed suit against his former employer, claiming he was not hired for a permanent position because of a criminal offense he committed more than 30 years ago.

Robert E. Williams, individually and on behalf of others similarly situated, filed suit July 28 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas Houston Division against National Oilwell Varco.

According to the complaint, Williams was working as a temporary welder and fitter for the defendant when his supervisor recommended him for a permanent position. All he had to do to obtain the position, the supervisor informed him, was to fill out an application, according to the complaint.

The plaintiff was told the application was a formality, but to his surprise, he was not hired for a permanent position, the suit states. Williams and his supervisor were also surprised because they told the plaintiff they believed he was an excellent worker, and they had tried to get hired on a permanent basis, according to the complaint.

Williams, who also lost his job as a temporary worker, inquired into why he was not hired and why he had lost his position, the complaint says. Williams's lawyer obtained documentation from his employer, which appeared to indicate Williams's application had been rejected due to a 33-year-old criminal conviction, he claims.

A corporate counsel for the company confirmed Williams had not been hired due to his conviction for robbing a store in 1978, according to the complaint.

Although NOV was told that its reason for refusing Williams's application violated Title VII, it continued to refuse to hire him, the suit states.

Williams is seeking actual and general damages, plus pre- and post-judgment interest at the highest legal rate, liquidated and punitive damages, attorney's fees and other relief the court deems just. He is also seeking a permanent injunction that would prevent the defendant from engaging in race discrimination.

He is being represented by attorneys Todd Slobin and Martin Shellist of Shellist, Lazarz and Slobin in Houston.

U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas Houston Division case number 4:14-cv-02156

This is a report on a civil lawsuit filed at the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas Houston Division. The details in this report come from an original complaint filed by a plaintiff. Please note that a complaint represents an accusation by a private individual, not the government. It is not an indication of guilt, and it represents only one side of the story.

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