Wednesday, January 7, 2004
A 54-year-old former delivery driver is suing two now-merged ice-cream companies, claiming the firms refused to accommodate his dis-ability and engaged in race and age discrimination, according to an attorney with The Legal Aid Society-Employment Law Center in San Francisco.
Ronald Turner drove a truck for Nestl Ice Cream Co. out of a warehouse in Hayward. Nestl merged with Dreyer's Ice Cream in 2003, forming a new company called Dreyer's Grand Ice Cream Co. Turner is suing both seeking monetary damages and reinstatement.
Lawyers for Dreyer's, which has a plant in Union City, did not return repeated calls Wed-nesday.
In April 2001, while working at Nestl delivering ice cream to area stores, Turner developed multiple sclerosis, a condition that was exacerbated by the coldness of the freezer truck, his lawyer said.
Turner, a Richmond resident, made repeated requests for assistance, including requesting a transfer to another position to alleviate his condition, but his supervisor continually refused, his lawyer said.
Turner, who began with Nestl in August 2000, was forced to take several medical leaves during the next 18 months before he was fired in January 2003, the lawyer said.
"Being fired has put a tremendous strain on me and my family," Turner said in a statement.
"I have two children in college and my wife works seven days a week to support us. We've had to declare bankruptcy and I'm on medication to deal with the stress. I'm just looking to get back to work and get my family back to where it was."
The lawyer said Turner wants to be compensated because he wasn't able to get another job at Nestl, "a company he really enjoyed working for."
The company announced in October that the Union City plant will shut down in February, leaving 221 workers unemployed.
Dreyer's began in Oakland 75 years ago, has a dozen Bay Area offices
and employs 6,000 people nationwide, according to reports.
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