Project Engineers Were Selected for Layoff by Age, Federal Agency Charged
DETROIT -- A large Auburn Hills, Mich.-based manufacturer of parts for the automotive, aerospace, defense, and marine industries violated federal law by laying off various engineers on the basis of their age, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed today.
According to the EEOC's suit (Case No. 2:12-cv-10264) in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan), Hutchinson Sealing Systems, Inc., manipulated its criteria for selecting project engineers for layoff based on age. In the first round of layoffs, William Galas was the only engineer selected for layoff. At the age of 62 at the time, he was the oldest project engineer. A mere month later, Hutchinson laid off two more project engineers. This time, Hutchinson added one new layoff criterion that led to the second- and third-oldest project engineers at the time, ages 51 and 48 respectively, to be selected for layoff. Hutchinson did not provide a satisfactory explanation for this creation of new layoff criteria mere month later, the EEOC said. The agency said that if Hutchinson had used the same criteria for the two later layoffs as for the first one (of Galas), then both of these engineers would not have been selected for termination, but rather much younger engineers would have been.
Such alleged conduct violates the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA). The EEOC filed suit against Hutchinson Sealing Systems after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The agency seeks to recover monetary compensation for Galas and the two other project engineers in the form of back pay other relief, including reinstatement, front pay and anti-discrimination training for the company.
“This conduct violates even the heightened proof standards of the ADEA in layoff situations,” said EEOC Trial Attorney Trek Carethers. “It is clear that the selections were manipulated and based on the age of the employees.”
The EEOC is responsible for enforcing the nation's laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its website at www.eeoc.gov.