Firm Sued for Laying Off Older Employees

January 24, 2012 ( – Michigan-based Hutchinson Sealing Systems violated federal law by laying off various engineers on the basis of their age, according to a lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

The agency says the company, a manufacturer of parts for the automotive, aerospace, defense and marine industries, manipulated its criteria for selecting project engineers for layoff based on age.

In the first round of layoffs, William Galas was the only engineer selected for layoff. He was 62 at the time and the oldest project engineer. A month later, Hutchinson laid off two more project engineers. This time, Hutchinson added one new layoff criterion that led to the second- and third-oldest project engineers at the time, ages 51 and 48, respectively, to be selected for layoff.

Hutchinson did not provide a satisfactory explanation for this creation of new layoff criteria, the EEOC said. The lawsuit claims that if Hutchinson had used the same criteria for the two later layoffs as for the first one (of Galas), then both of these engineers would not have been selected for termination, but rather much younger engineers would have been.

The agency seeks to recover monetary compensation for Galas and the two other project engineers in the form of back pay and other relief, including reinstatement, front pay and anti-discrimination training for the company.