Press Release 08-19-2009

AUTO PARTS MANUFACTURER SETTLES EEOC AGE DISCRIMINATION SUIT FOR $80,000

Federal Agency Charged Freudenberg-NOK Refused to Hire Older Worker at N.H. Facility

BOSTON – Freudenberg-NOK General Partnership, an auto  parts manufacturer based in Michigan with  substantial operations in New    Hampshire, will pay $80,000 and furnish other relief  to settle an age discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment  Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today. The EEOC had charged Freudenberg refused to  hire a man because of his age for a controller position at its Bristol, N.H.,  facility.

According to  the EEOC’s lawsuit, Timothy Poh applied for and was interviewed for the  Controller position at Freudenberg’s Bristol  facility in the fall of 2006. After Poh  followed up several times, Freudenberg called him on Jan. 3, 2007 to tell him  that although he was well qualified, it was looking for someone “not quite so  old with as much experience.”  Freudenberg offered the position to two younger applicants and  eventually hired a younger, less qualified person for the position.

Age  discrimination violates the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA). The EEOC filed suit in December 2007 (Civil  Action No. 1: 07-cv-00406-JD)  in U.S. District Court for the District of New Hampshire in Concord.

The settlement  provides $80,000 to Poh to make him whole for his financial losses. In addition to the monetary payments, the  consent decree resolving the litigation, approved by Judge Joseph A. DiClerico, enjoins Freudenberg from discrimin­ating  on the basis of age and from violating the Older Workers Benefit Protection Act  when it seeks to have employees waive or release rights under the ADEA; mandates training of management on the  requirements of the ADEA; and requires the issuance of a new  anti-discrimination policy and the posting of a notice regarding the  settlement.

“While this  case arose over two years ago, we know that in these difficult economic times  age discrimination is an even greater problem,”  said Spencer H. Lewis, Jr., director of the EEOC’s New York District  Office. “The EEOC will continue to  vigorously enforce federal protections for workers against age discrimination.”

EEOC Senior  Trial Attorney Markus L. Penzel in Boston  added, “The EEOC is pleased that Freudenberg worked cooperatively with us to  resolve this case short of a trial. We  believe that the relief provided in the consent decree will help prevent what  happened to Mr. Poh from happening to others in the future.”

On its web site,  Freudenberg describes itself as “the Americas  joint venture partnership between Freudenberg & Co. in Germany and NOK Corp. in Japan,” and a “leading  producer of advanced sealing and vibration control products” with revenues of  approximately $1 billion.

In July of this year, the EEOC held a public hearing on recent developments  in age discrimin­ation, including the effect on older workers of widespread  layoffs, threats to employee benefits and controversial recent court decisions.  The Commission also issued a technical  assistance document on waivers of discrimination claims as part of severance  agreements. Further information is  available at http://www.eeoc.gov/press/7-15-09.html and http://www.eeoc.gov/policy/docs/qanda_severance-agreements.html.

The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about EEOC is available on  its web site at www.eeoc.gov.