Removed to federal court: suit accusing Motiva of firing man for using cell phone at refinery

By David Yates | Dec 2, 2014

A suit accusing Motiva Enterprises of terminating a worker after using his cell phone to complete a work-related task has been removed to federal court.

As previously reported, George W. Davis IV filed a lawsuit July 28 in the Jefferson County District Court against Motiva Enterprises.

Court records show that on Sep. 22 a notice of removal was filed in the case, showing the matter would now be litigated in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, Beaumont Division.

According to the original petition, Davis claims he used his cell phone Jan. 13 at a dock after discovering printers had run out of paper. As part of his job duties, Davis was required to record the times products are delivered. Normally, he would use the paper to record the times.

Davis, to avoid a delay, decided use the note pad feature of his Apple iPhone 5 to record the times instead of utilizing the paper, the complaint says. Meanwhile, a video surveillance camera was recording his work.

The suit states that Ono Jan. 15 Davis was called into human resources and asked whether he knew cell phones were prohibited in certain areas. On Jan. 23, he was fired for safety violations, including the use of a cell phone without a permit in a restricted area.

By firing Davis, Motiva discriminated against him, the complaint says. Davis contends his non-black co-workers have committed more serious offenses but have remained employed.

Davis learned a white employee of the same plant was discovered taking a call on his cell phone while operating a motor vehicle in the plant, the suit states. Such offense was stated to be grounds for termination, based on a safety card that was routinely passed out to all plant employees. That employee remained a Motiva employee.

Additionally, Davis also learned another non-African-American employee retained his job even after committing safety violation so egregious it could have resulted in a catastrophic explosion at the plant, according to the suit.

Davis says his financial security has been jeopardized because of his job loss.

Attorney Stephen P. Webb of Webb and Webb in Austin represents him.

Motiva is represented by Beaumont attorney Robert Hambright of Orgain Bell & Tucker.

Jefferson County District Court case number E195-917

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