Discrimination Settlement Nears at Ford

November 19, 2001 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - Ford has reportedly reached a tentative settlement agreement in two age and gender-bias suits brought by current and former employees, according to the Associated Press.
Negotiations over seven individual lawsuits were scheduled to begin in earnest this week, according to plaintiff attorney James Fett.   Tentative settlement terms in the suits, which were not disclosed, were reached after a marathon negotiating session last Wednesday, according to the report.

The lawsuits in question involve the company’s performance evaluation system, which allegedly favored younger, so-called diversity candidates (see Statistics Show Older Ford Managers Get Bad Grades ).   Last July, Ford said it would discontinue the 18-month-old Performance Management Process, which assigned managers grades of A, B or C and handed out bonuses/raises accordingly (see Ford Shifts Gears On Employee Grading System ).

The program began with a “forced” distribution that called for at least 10% of employees to be rated a “C”  a ranking that impacted raises and bonuses. Those rated “C” for two years running ran the risk of losing their jobs.   The 10% distribution was later softened to 5%.

Plaintiffs said that before the grading program was implemented, they had received positive evaluations. However, once the new program was in place, they say they got C grades, while some women and minorities with less experience or inferior work records were given higher grades.

MORE on forced performance evaluation systems at Total Benefits: Making the Grade