Civil rights leaders in the US are condemning the “inappropriate use of race and ethnicity” in a US lawsuit brought against the Taiwanese-owned PVC and plastic pipe manufacturer JM Eagle.
“Although race and ethnicity have absolutely nothing to do with the case, the plaintiff and his attorneys repeatedly interject gratuitous references to Asian ethnicity,” said Stewart Kwoh, executive director of the Asian Pacific American Legal Center.
“Given the irrelevance of ethnicity and nationality to this case, we are concerned that such information has been included solely to stir racial intolerance,” Kwoh said in an open letter signed by nine Asian, Hispanic, Jewish and African-American civil rights leaders.
The civil rights leaders said they took no position with respect to the merits of the litigation that has been brought by one of JM Eagle’s former employees, which alleges that the company sold nonconforming plastic pipes to government departments.
JM Eagle, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of PVC and plastic pipes, “vigorously denies” the claims.
The company is owned by Walter Wang (王文祥).
“It appears that the plaintiff in the case and his attorneys believe they stand to gain by repeatedly interjecting Asian ethnicity and nationality to describe various entities and individuals, even though ethnicity and nationality have no relevance whatsoever,” Kwoh said.
As an example, he said the legal documents filed in court by the plaintiff alleged that JM Eagle hired “Taiwanese nationals” with “significantly less experience and fewer credentials” to replace the previous managers at some plants.
The documents said that Formosa Plastics Corp — another defendant in the case — “is largely controlled by the Wang family of Taiwan.”
“The ethnicity and nationality of the family that owns Formosa Plastics Corporation, or where they happen to live or come from, has nothing to do with the merits of the complaint. The ethnicity and nationality of the owners of other companies mentioned are never specified,” Kwoh said.
At another point, the documents said the company’s director of production was from Taiwan, although again his nationality “is simply irrelevant to the allegations in the complaint.”
The open letter said that perhaps the most egregious reference in the legal documents filed by the plaintiff and his lawyers stated: “Until approximately 2003, Formosa Plastics Corporation owned and operated a boarding house near its Livingston, New Jersey headquarters to accommodate the large number of Taiwanese employees who could not otherwise afford to live in the greater New York Metropolitan area.”
“This allegation is immaterial to the lawsuit, has no bearing whatsoever on the causes of action alleged and seems designed only to stir anti-immigrant resentment toward a particular ethnic group,” Kwoh said.
The open letter is signed by John Chen, Committee of 100; Craig Ishii, Japanese American Citizens League; Munson Kwok, Chinese American Citizens Alliance; Don Nakanishi, University of California Asian American Studies Center; Connie Rice, Advancement Project; Thomas Saenz, Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund; Amanda Susskind, Anti-Defamation League; Arturo Vargas, National Association of Latino Officials; and Kwoh.