Workers Say Goodyear Grading System Full of Hot Air

September 12, 2002 ( - A group of Goodyear Tire & Rubber workers have sued their employer, claiming the firm's employee evaluation system discriminates against older workers.

The lawsuit says the Akron, Ohio-based company’s evaluation system discriminates against older workers, giving them a disproportionate number of low grades and depriving them of raises or causing them to be fired.

The lawsuit names eight plaintiffs, ages 55 to 59, whose annual salaries range from $48,700 to $71,700. The lawsuit says hundreds of workers in more than 10 states could join if it is granted class-action status.

Quota Comments

According to Dow Jones, Goodyear spokesman Keith Price said Thursday that the company doesn’t discriminate, but it is revising the evaluation system to address workers’ concerns.  Furthermore, Goodyear now says it is dropping the most contentious part of its so-called ABC evaluation system, in which the top 10% of workers got an A, the middle 80% got a B and the bottom 10% received a C.

Goodyear implemented the ABC system in 2000 and has made revisions after surveying hundreds of employees throughout North America and studying the issue for months, according to Dow Jones.  The revised system will still have three rankings, but there will not be a quota for low grades.  However, employees ranked unsatisfactory, the lowest category, must complete an improvement program, according to the report.

Ford Fare

In a system similar to a controversial program at Ford, workers who received a C were denied raises and some were fired or demoted, according to the report.  Ford reached a $10.5 million settlement with about 530 workers regarding its Performance Management Process policy.  The employee suit alleged that the system was being used by Ford to systematically weed out older workers.  Ford has since abandoned the program.

As in the Ford cas, retiree-advocacy group AARP entered the fray, joining with lawyers representing eight Goodyear workers filed the lawsuit in Summit County Common Pleas Court. Despite Goodyear’s announced changes, plaintiffs’ lawyers plan to go ahead with their lawsuit to find out if a disproportionate number of older workers have been fired or denied raises and bonuses during the 18 months Goodyear’s system was in place.

They plan to seek class-action status.