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Ex-Tyson worker wins bias lawsuit for 2nd time

GADSDEN (AP) — A Gadsden man has won a $1.3 million verdict against Tyson Foods for a second time in a racial bias case that began in 1995 and went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

A federal court jury awarded John Hithon $1 million in punitive damages, $300,000 for emotional distress and $35,000 in lost wages Tuesday evening. A Tyson spokesman said the Arkansas-based company intends to ask the court to disregard the verdict.

Hithon sued Tyson in 1995, contending he was passed over for a promotion at the plant by a manager who had referred to him occasionally as "boy." He contended a less qualified white man got the position.

A Birmingham-based jury awarded Hithon and another plaintiff, Anthony Ash, $1.5 million each in 2002, but the judge later threw out the verdict. The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld that decision, but the Supreme Court revived the case in 2006.

Hithon's latest trial began Aug. 6 before a Gadsden-based jury of five men and five women, which included one black woman, before U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert Armstrong.

One of Hithon's lawyers, Alicia Haynes, said black workers at Tyson were promoted to the superintendent level, but never to the shift manager position. Haynes said Tyson violated its own policy and procedures in promotions.

She said Hithon, who was a superintendent, had 13 years with Tyson and 11 years of managerial experience when he applied for shift manager, and that Tyson promoted a white man who had two years of experience. Haynes said Hithon had to train the man.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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