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PRESS RELEASE
12-17-15

Tepro, Inc. To Pay $600,000 to Settle EEOC Age Discrimination Suit

Company Laid Off Older Employees Based on Their Age, Federal Agency Charged

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. - Tepro, Inc., a manufacturer of rubber products for the automotive industry, will pay $600,000 and provide other relief to settle a class age discrimination lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.

According to EEOC's complaint, (EEOC v. Tepro, Inc., Civil Action No. 4:12-cv-00075), filed on Nov. 15, 2012 in the Eastern District of Tennessee, Winchester Division, Tepro discriminated against a class of employees when it subjected the individuals to layoff because of their age. Specifically, EEOC alleged Tepro reclassified employees in the protected age group, age 40 and over, from "Tech II" to "Tech III" positions -through the use of misrepresentations, coercion, or threats - and that this reclassification resulted in the reclassified employees losing their seniority dates and ultimately being laid off. The EEOC filed suit after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

"This resolution demonstrates EEOC's resolve to continue its efforts in litigating systemic cases and in eliminating stereotypes regarding the abilities and skills of older workers," said EEOC General Counsel P. David Lopez.

Besides requiring the company to pay $600,000 to the 25 class members, the two-year consent decree approved by U.S. District Judge Harry S. Mattice, the presiding judge, resolving the case:

  • enjoins Tepro from laying off employees because of their age in the future;
  • requires that Tepro develop a new layoff policy;
  • requires that Tepro develop a new age discrimination policy;
  • requires Tepro to provide annual training on age discrimination to all employees in its Winchester, Tenn. facility;
  • requires a high-level executive of Tepro to appear at the conclusion of the training in person or via video conference to announce Tepro's non-discrimination age policy and the consequences for violating such policy;
  • allows EEOC to monitor and review compliance with the consent decree; and
  • requires Tepro to post a notice of the resolution of the lawsuit in the workplace.

"Congress passed the ADEA to ensure that older workers could be employed based on their ability rather than age and "to prohibit arbitrary age discrimination in employment," said Faye A. Williams, regional attorney for EEOC's Memphis District Office. "This resolution demonstrates EEOC's continuing effort to ensure that older workers are protected in the workplace."

TEPRO is a Tennessee corporation and subsidiary of the Kinugawa Rubber Industrial Co., a Japanese manufacturer of automotive parts with overseas facilities.  TEPRO supplies automotive parts for various automobile manufacturers. 

EEOC's Memphis District Office has jurisdiction over Tennessee, Arkansas, and 17 counties in the Northern District of Mississippi.

EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.