Ford Accused of Benefits Interference

March 1, 2006 ( - A former Ford Motor Company engineer has filed a lawsuit accusing the company of trying to deprive him of pension and other benefits.

The Detroit News reports that the lawsuit was filed on behalf of William Armstrong and five other Ford employees. They, along with thousands of other white-collar workers, lost their jobs in January as part of Ford’s North American restructuring.

“We are alleging that the company terminated these six individuals – as well as others that they purport to represent – because of their proximity to receiving the 30-year service pensions,” said attorney Michael Pitt, representing the plaintiffs, in the news report. “Many of them were within a few months of receiving those benefits.”

The attorney hopes to add more plaintiffs to the suit, as well as to an age-discrimination suit filed by Armstrong on February 13, and is seeking class-action status for both.

A Ford spokeswoman said that the layoffs were economically necessary and within the law.

Ford provided to all of the employees who lost their jobs as part of the restructuring campaign a list of all the layoffs in their department, broken down by the employees’ age and job classification. On February 17, another fired Ford engineer filed a complaint with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission contending that the company should have provided that information for the entire company, not just each employees department, and alleging that its failure to do so constituted a violation of federal law.

Armstrong’s attorney has also requested the full list for the company.