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A group of Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. employees sued the company Thursday, saying Goodyear’s employee evaluation system discriminates against older workers. Goodyear spokesman Keith Price said Thursday the company does not discriminate, but that it is revising the evaluation system to address workers’ concerns. Retiree-advocacy group AARP and lawyers representing eight Goodyear workers filed the lawsuit in Common Pleas Court. They plan to seek class action status. The lawsuit says the Akron, Ohio-based company’s evaluation system discriminated against older workers by giving a disproportionate number of them low grades, depriving them of raises or causing them to be fired. Goodyear’s evaluation effort is similar to a forced ranking system at Ford Motor Co. that provoked a lawsuit last year by about 500 workers. That suit was settled for $10.6 million, and Ford has since overhauled its system, abandoning grades. Goodyear said Thursday it is dropping the most contentious part of its evaluation system, implemented in 2000, in which the top 10 percent of workers got an A, the middle 80 percent got a B, and the bottom 10 percent received a C. Workers who received a C were denied raises, and some were fired or demoted. “It’s an invitation for discrimination,” said Megan Bonanni, a Royal Oak, Mich., lawyer representing employees. “It’s designed to rid the company of older workers.” Under the company’s revised system, which will still have three ratings, there will not be a quota for low grades. Employees ranked in the lowest category must complete an improvement program, Price said. Goodyear does employee evaluations each spring. “We applaud Goodyear’s action as a good first step to rectifying the situation,” said Laurie McCann, an AARP attorney. “Unfortunately, a lot of people were already harmed by it, and we need to get remedies for them.” Lawyers for the workers say older employees are often targeted for dismissal because they earn higher wages. “They gave the early retirement (incentives) mostly to older workers, and if you turned it down, which I did, it seems you were targeted,” said Jack McGilvery, 59, who has received two C’s and is now on disability leave with pancreatic cancer. Copyright 2002 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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