Four ex-Ford employees claim that the car manufacturer fired them based on their age to avoid providing them with more generous pensions and retirement plans.
In the lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Detroit, the leadership-level white-collar employees who worked in Dearborn allege that Ford targeted employees who were close to hitting benchmarks of 30 years working for the company and those over the age of 55. Reaching these benchmarks for some employees would have seen their pensions and retirement plans more than double.
The Detroit News reports that the lawsuit claims Ford violated Section 510 of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act when using an algorithm to “target older and higher pension-cost salaried employees” as part of sweeping global restricting plans announced in May under the leadership of chief executive Jim Hackett. It is also claimed that the company violated the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act by discriminating against employees based on their age.
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The lawsuit has been filed on behalf of Monica Nicolaysen Dowhan and three other employees of similar rank and seeks lost wages and benefits as well as the reinstatement of their jobs.
“They terminated these people not because they were bad performers or because there was no place for them,” law firm Pitt, McGehee, Palmer, and Rivers’ attorney Michael Pitt said. “They did it because they wanted to deprive them of the retirement benefits. That is illegal. Ford Motor Company crossed a line with this one.”
In a statement, Ford says the claims made in the lawsuit are baseless. “The process was careful. It was thorough. The considerations taken then were appropriate, and retirement status wasn’t among them,” it stated.