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Man sues Quad Graphics, alleging disability bias

April 15, 1998|By AMY WALLAUER

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - A Martinsburg man has filed a lawsuit against Quad Graphics in Martinsburg and the plant's maintenance supervisor, claiming he was denied a job because of a disability.

In the suit, filed last week in Berkeley County Circuit Court, Milton Marple said he was interviewing for a position at the manufacturing plant when a supervisor noticed his limp and said, "Oh, you have a problem with your leg. Never mind."

Marple claims Quad Graphics, at 855 Caperton Blvd., discriminated against him, which is prohibited under the West Virginia Human Rights Act. He is asking for back pay, front pay, compensatory and punitive damages and an injunction prohibiting the company from future discrimination, according to court documents.

The lawsuit did not give a specific amount sought for damages.

According to the lawsuit, Marple was interviewed on Sept. 19, 1997, for the position of maintenance mechanic and was qualified to perform the duties of the job.

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Craig Strawn, maintenance supervisor at Quad Graphics, told Marple five positions were available and only four people had applied, the suit said.

Marple said Strawn led him to believe he would be hired, the suit said, and took him on a tour of the plant.

When Strawn and Marple began ascending a staircase, Strawn saw his limp and said " Oh, never mind," according to the complaint.

Three days later, Marple resigned his position as a mechanic with the Martinsburg Service Center, 237 W. Martin St., believing he would be hired at Quad Graphics, the complaint said.

For the next two months, Marple telephoned Strawn weekly asking when he would be hired. Strawn told Marple he was qualified, but was considering other applicants as well, the suit said.

Frustrated, Marple called someone in the company's employee relations department in January, saying he believed Strawn was discriminating against him, the complaint said. He was told to reapply for the position, but expressed concern that Strawn would retaliate if Marple applied for any position under his supervision, according to the suit.

Marple was told of other positions not supervised by Strawn and expressed interest in the company's finishing and gravure imaging departments, the suit said.

He was never contacted about filling any position, according to the suit.

Marple's complaint alleges Quad Graphics and Strawn have acted with malice by not contacting him for employment and refusing to hire him as retaliation for his discrimination complaint.

Strawn declined comment when reached at his home Sunday. Plant Manager Mike Popp referred all questions to corporate attorney Robin Sheridan.

Sheridan said she could not comment on the suit because the company has not yet been served, but said Quad Graphics is an equal opportunity employer.

"The company is firmly dedicated to all equal opportunity matters," Sheridan said. "I'm confident all practices and procedures were in place."

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