Federal Agency Charged Freudenberg-NOK Refused to Hire Older Worker at N.H. Facility
BOSTON – Freudenberg-NOK General Partnership, an auto parts manufacturer based in Michigan with substantial operations in New Hampshire, will pay $80,000 and furnish other relief to settle an age discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today. The EEOC had charged Freudenberg refused to hire a man because of his age for a controller position at its Bristol, N.H., facility.
According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, Timothy Poh applied for and was interviewed for the Controller position at Freudenberg’s Bristol facility in the fall of 2006. After Poh followed up several times, Freudenberg called him on Jan. 3, 2007 to tell him that although he was well qualified, it was looking for someone “not quite so old with as much experience.” Freudenberg offered the position to two younger applicants and eventually hired a younger, less qualified person for the position.
Age discrimination violates the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA). The EEOC filed suit in December 2007 (Civil Action No. 1: 07-cv-00406-JD) in U.S. District Court for the District of New Hampshire in Concord.
The settlement provides $80,000 to Poh to make him whole for his financial losses. In addition to the monetary payments, the consent decree resolving the litigation, approved by Judge Joseph A. DiClerico, enjoins Freudenberg from discriminating on the basis of age and from violating the Older Workers Benefit Protection Act when it seeks to have employees waive or release rights under the ADEA; mandates training of management on the requirements of the ADEA; and requires the issuance of a new anti-discrimination policy and the posting of a notice regarding the settlement.
“While this case arose over two years ago, we know that in these difficult economic times age discrimination is an even greater problem,” said Spencer H. Lewis, Jr., director of the EEOC’s New York District Office. “The EEOC will continue to vigorously enforce federal protections for workers against age discrimination.”
EEOC Senior Trial Attorney Markus L. Penzel in Boston added, “The EEOC is pleased that Freudenberg worked cooperatively with us to resolve this case short of a trial. We believe that the relief provided in the consent decree will help prevent what happened to Mr. Poh from happening to others in the future.”
On its web site, Freudenberg describes itself as “the Americas joint venture partnership between Freudenberg & Co. in Germany and NOK Corp. in Japan,” and a “leading producer of advanced sealing and vibration control products” with revenues of approximately $1 billion.
In July of this year, the EEOC held a public hearing on recent developments in age discrimination, including the effect on older workers of widespread layoffs, threats to employee benefits and controversial recent court decisions. The Commission also issued a technical assistance document on waivers of discrimination claims as part of severance agreements. Further information is available at http://www.eeoc.gov/press/7-15-09.html and http://www.eeoc.gov/policy/docs/qanda_severance-agreements.html.
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.