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Ford Motor Co. has reached tentative settlement terms in age- and gender-bias claims brought by current and former employees in two class actions, a plaintiffs’ lawyer said Friday. Negotiations over seven individual lawsuits were scheduled to begin in earnest this week, attorney James Fett said. “Both Ford and my clients know it is in the best interest of the company and all employees to put this behind the Ford Motor Company,” he said. Tentative settlement terms in the suits, which were not disclosed, were reached after a marathon negotiating session last Wednesday, Fett said. It wasn’t clear whether that framework would remain in place if the individual cases moved forward. The plantiffs’ lawyers and a Ford spokeswoman declined comment on the matter. The lawsuits claim the company’s evaluation system favored younger, so-called diversity candidates. Dearborn, Mich.-based Ford said in July that it would discontinue its 18-month-old system of evaluating about 18,000 managers. Under the Performance Management Process, employees were graded A, B, or C. Those receiving a C could lose bonuses and raises, and two consecutive C grades could mean dismissal. Plaintiffs said that before the grading program was implemented they had received positive evaluations. Once the program was installed, they say they received C grades while some women and minorities with less experience or inferior work records were given higher grades. The letter system was replaced by three designations: top achiever, achiever, and improvement required. Copyright 2001 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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