CA Auto Plant Settles EEOC Suit

August 22, 2011 ( - New United Motors & Manufacturing, Inc. (NUMMI), what the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission says is California’s last auto plant, has agreed to contribute to a $6 million settlement fund to resolve complaints that it violated federal law when it denied severance benefits to employees on medical leave.

According to an EEOC news release, when the Fremont facility closed in April 2010, employees received a severance package based on whether they worked during the last six months of NUMMI’s operation as well as their years of service.  Workers who were on leave informed the EEOC that they were physically capable of returning to work during the severance period, but were denied reinstatement.    

As a result, most disabled workers were ineligible for the portion of severance pay that factored in their years of service. Many of the affected workers had worked for NUMMI for 25 to 30 years, and suffered losses of up to $38,000 each, the announcement said.  

While the EEOC charges were pending, a group of former employees filed a federal lawsuit (Cookson et al v. NUMMI, C10-02931 CRB (N.D. Cal.) on July 14, 2010.  The conciliation agreement between EEOC and NUMMI, attached to the settlement agreement for the private lawsuit, was submitted to Judge Charles Breyer for preliminary approval.   

NUMMI employees who meet the following criteria may be eligible to participate in a claims process over the coming months: 

  • disabled under state and federal laws; 
  • on leave from work due to their own disability at any time between October 1, 2009, and April 1, 2010; and 
  • denied all or any part of the NUMMI severance pay.