Former Detroit Pistons Player Vinnie Johnson Sues to Reclaim Minority Status for his Business

Former Detroit Pistons Player Vinnie Johnson Sues to Reclaim Minority Status for his Business

A former Detroit Pistons basketball player who owns an automotive company has filed a lawsuit against an industry association because it stripped his company of its minority-owned certification.

According to The Wall Street Journal, former Detroit Pistons basketball player Vinnie Johnson, owner of Detroit-based Piston Group, has filed a suit against the nonprofit Michigan Minority Supplier Development Council. Earlier this year in February, the Council revoked the minority status of several of Piston Group’s subsidiaries.

Based on the court documents, Piston Group has stated that the council informed the company that the decision was because Johnson, who is Black, isn’t directly involved enough in the day-to-day operations and that his leadership team wasn’t diverse enough.

Johnson’s company is requesting the Wayne County Circuit Court in Detroit for an injunction that would restore its minority certification.

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Michigan Minority Supplier Development Council has stated that the company’s lawsuit is without merit. It said Piston Group didn’t meet its standards for minority certification that requires a person or persons of color to own at least 51% of the company and to actively manage day-to-day operations.

“We find it unfortunate that a corporation that for years benefited from minority business advocacy has now chosen to sue the MMSDC rather than comply with the rules that the organization applies to all of its member MBEs,” Michigan Minority Supplier Development Council said, referring to minority business enterprises.

“We are confident that Piston Group’s rightful designation as a certified minority-business enterprise will be recognized by the courts, and we welcome the opportunity to present our case,” said Piston Group attorney Mark Zausmer. “Vinnie Johnson owns and controls 100% of Piston Group—this is a minority-controlled business under every applicable standard.”

Vincent Johnson known as “The Microwave” was a key player coming off the bench as the sixth man for the Detroit Pistons during the team’s championship runs of 1989 and 1990. In Game 5 of the NBA Finals in 1990, Johnson made a 14-foot shot with 0.7 seconds left on the clock to beat the Portland Trail Blazers 92-90 to become repeat champions.