A white former United Parcel Service employee deserves substantial damages after being wrongfully fired in 2017 to appease a Latino employee, his attorney told a jury Thursday, but a lawyer for the package delivery company said no wrongdoing occurred and the plaintiff deserves nothing.
The attorneys made their pitches to a Los Angeles Superior Court jury hearing opening statements in the trial of 47-year-old Mason McConn’s lawsuit. The ex-UPS dock dispatcher from Long Beach alleges wrongful termination, racial discrimination, retaliation and defamation.
Plaintiffs’ attorney J. Bernard Alexander said the Latino who repeatedly clashed with McConn, UPS driver Pedro Flores, was supervised by the plaintiff and wanted him off the job.
“Mr. Flores’ goal was always to get Mr. McConn fired,” Alexander said.
According to Alexander, McConn worked for UPS for 12 years and his job was to supervise drivers at the Ontario facility who distributed freight throughout Los Angeles County. McConn was well liked by drivers and management, who commended him for his work, the attorney said.
Although profanity was commonly used by those who worked on the UPS dock, the company used two incidents of McConn using foul language twice within 11 months as a pretext to fire him, Alexander said.
A shortage of drivers prompted McConn to assign more work to those in the UPS work force, which angered Flores, according to Alexander.
When the plaintiff assigned Flores work, Flores became insubordinate and asked why the tasks were not given to white drivers, according to Alexander.
Flores called McConn a racist, alleged that McConn discriminated against him and said the plaintiff brushed against him during one incident, according to Alexander.
Flores threatened to sue McConn and to take away his home in the process, Alexander said.
UPS, citing the allegations that McConn used profanity in the workplace, ultimately fired him in 2017 because the company was more concerned about a threat of a lawsuit by Flores than facing the truth, Alexander said.
Many of McConn’s former co-workers of many different races circulated a petition after his firing demanding he be reinstated, but the company refused to give him his job back, according to Alexander.
Flores went on a leave from UPS in 2016 and never returned, Alexander said.
Flores and other UPS drivers are members of the Teamsters union, but McConn did not have union representation, said Alexander, who added that his client is expected to testify early next week.
But UPS attorney William B. Hill said McConn did not lose his job because he is white, but instead, due to his “unprofessional conduct in managing employees.”
The attorney cited two clashes McConn had with Flores and a third with another UPS employee, saying his conduct fell below the standards of what are expected of a manager in his position. Hill also said McConn admitted he may have brushed against Flores during one of the incidents between them.
Hill said McConn was repeatedly counseled by a human resources manager for his interactions with the two workers, but to no avail. He also said UPS investigated complaints McConn made and took them seriously.
“I’m going to ask that you award Mr. McConn nothing,” Hill said.
The trial’s first witness, Albert Diaz, said he has worked for UPS for 24 years, including the time he was supervised by McConn. Diaz, who said he was born in Mexico, defended McConn as a good boss and denied he was racist.
“I loved working for him, I had no problem,” Diaz said.
Flores repeatedly invoked race when asked to perform a task he did not like, Diaz said.
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