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Former employee files discrimination lawsuit against Alabama Hyundai plant

Hyundai

A former longtime employee at Hyundai’s Alabama plant has filed a federal discrimination lawsuit against the automotive manufacturer.

The federal lawsuit filed Tuesday follows a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in July. Both the complaint and lawsuit allege years of racial and sexual discrimination culminating in June when the company fired the former director of administration, Yvette Gilkey-Shuford.

According to the filing, Gilkey-Shuford began experiencing discrimination when she was promoted to the Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama executive team in 2018.

“During the federal investigation in this case, HMMA all but admitted they promoted Ms. Shuford because they thought putting a black woman in upper management would appease the black workforce and tamp down union activism,” attorney Artur Davis, who is representing Gilkey-Shuford, said about statements from HMMA during the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s investigation of her discrimination complaint. “Not surprisingly, they paid and treated her like a token and let her go when she became expendable.”

In her EEOC complaint, Gilkey-Shuford claimed many of the core functions of her position were reassigned to other colleagues as soon as she took the job. She was also the lowest paid senior director, all the others being white men, despite being one of only two directors to hold an advanced degree, in her case, a Master of Business Administration.

“This kind of discrimination doesn’t happen in a vacuum,” Davis said. “It’s part of a culture of discrimination and prejudice and Ms. Shuford isn’t that culture’s only victim. It’s just the tip of the iceberg.”

According to the complaint, Gilkey-Shuford was notified in June that her position would be eliminated as part of the plant’s restructuring. But according to counsel, her position was the only one impacted.

The suit indicates Gilkey-Shuford is seeking back pay, front pay, lost benefits, compensatory damages to the extent allowed by law, punitive damages, attorney’s fees, litigation costs and other monetary relief.

Derik is the newest addition to the Award-Winning WVAS News Team. He is a graduate of the University of Alabama and got his start in media in Atlanta as a co-host and analyst on a sports talk radio show. Since being with WVAS Derik has been awarded the Alabama Broadcasters Association Award for 2019 Best in Broadcasting Medium Market Reporter and 2nd place Associated Press Award for Best General Sports Report. His goal is to continue to grow as a sports and news journalist as well as a producer.