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Manufacturer settles charges it cheated older workers out of seniority

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A Tennessee manufacturer of rubber products for the automobile industry has agreed to pay $600,000 to settle a class action Equal Employment Opportunity Commission age discrimination lawsuit.

The EEOC said Thursday that Winchester, Tennessee-based Tepro Inc. had reclassified employees who were age 40 and over from “Tech 11” to “Tech 111” positions through the use of misrepresentations, coercion or threats, which resulted in their losing their seniority status and ultimately being laid off.

In addition to paying $600,000 to 25 class members, under terms of a two-year consent decree the company is required to develop a new layoff policy and provide annual training on age discrimination, among other provisions.

“This resolution demonstrates EEOC's resolve to continue its efforts in litigating systemic cases and in eliminating stereotypes regarding the abilities and skills of older workers,” said EEOC General Counsel P. David Lopez, in the statement.

An attorney for Tepro, which is a subsidiary of Chiba, Japan-based Kinugawa Rubber Industrial Co., an automotive parts manufacturer, could not immediately be reached for comment.

Enterprise Rent-A-Car Co. of Los Angeles L.L.C., which was charged with failing to hire management trainees who were over 40, agreed to pay $425,000 to settle an age discrimination suit filed by the EEOC in July.