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Disabled Toyota NUMMI UAW Ripped Off In Severance Package
Toyota NUMMI workers were discriminated against in the severance package that the company provided for injured workers at the plant. In a cost shifting scheme, the injured workers got the shaft. Many of these injured workers will end up with SSI and the taxpayer taking care of their health and compensation costs.
Disabled Toyota Nummi workers file for full severance-Injured Workers Discriminated Against In Toyota Plant Closure-UAW Did Not Take Up Their Cases
Disabled Nummi workers file for full severance
Carolyn Said, Chronicle Staff Writer
Thursday, July 15, 2010
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Several former workers at the New United Motor Manufacturing Inc. plant filed a lawsuit on Wednesday claiming they were unfairly denied some severance pay and benefits because they were out on disability leave when the Fremont carmaker shut down.
Filed in U.S. District Court, the suit claims that Nummi and its parent company, Toyota Motor Corp., discriminated against injured and disabled employees because they were ineligible for full severance packages if they didn't work the entire six months before the plant closed. It seeks class-action status on behalf of about 300 Nummi workers who were out on disability during that time. About 4,700 workers lost their jobs when the plant closed.
In a statement, Nummi spokesman Lance Tomasu said: "Nummi has always prided itself on treating its team members with respect and fairness, and we believe we've done so in this situation. However, we don't typically comment on pending litigation."
About 10 people, half of them plaintiffs and half attorneys, held a news conference Wednesday outside the Oakland Federal Building to discuss the case.
"These workers were penalized for being injured while working for Toyota," said attorney Antonio Lawson. "Full severance packages were denied to injured and disabled workers."
When Toyota closed Nummi on April 1, former workers received base payouts of $21,175 plus a bonus that averaged $32,000, depending on years of service. But workers who were out on medical or other leave in the six months before the closure did not receive the bonus or received a partial bonus, based on the time they worked during those months - even if they had many years of service, Lawson said. They also were ineligible for some retraining funds and services.
To receive the base payouts of $21,175, workers were required to sign a release of all claims against Nummi by Aug. 1. The suit says some of the plaintiffs signed the agreement because they urgently needed the money.
The suit says that Nummi refused to make reasonable accommodations that would have allowed some disabled employees to return to work.
June Andrade, one of the plaintiffs, had worked for Nummi since 2001. She had several surgeries for on-the-job injuries, then tried to return to work in February 2010 with doctor-ordered restrictions on tasks she could perform. Nummi failed to reinstate her, although it had vacant positions for which she was qualified, the suit says.
"Nummi used to tell us we were a family," she said at the news conference. "But when we got injured, they ostracized us. When I went for information about retraining, HR stood behind a glass door and said I couldn't get the information."
"They singled out disabled workers for a hardship and disparate treatment compared to other workers," said attorney Claudio Center.
Besides restoration of the full severance, the suit seeks compensatory damages and attorneys' fees.
E-mail Carolyn Said at csaid [at] sfchronicle.com.