Federal Investigation Had Found Older Worker Was Denied Promotion
MINNEAPOLIS - The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and Hydro Extrusion USA, LLC (www.Hydro.com), an Illinois-based aluminum fabricator with approximately 20 plants throughout North America, have reached a voluntary conciliation agreement to resolve allegations of age discrimination raised by a former employee at its South Dakota plant, the federal agency said today.
Following an investigation, the EEOC had found reasonable cause to believe that Hydro discriminated against an employee because of his age in violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA). Specifically, the EEOC determined that Hydro violated the ADEA when it refused to select him for a supervisor position at its Yankton, S.D., plant following a reorganization, and preferring instead to select several less qualified, much younger employees. The agency pointed out that Hydro's "succession planning" and promotion practices excluded older workers like the original complainant.
As part of the agreement resolving the EEOC's findings, Hydro will provide a monetary settlement to the individual who filed the discrimination charge. The company will also develop and implement policies that will ensure that all employment decisions are made based on objective, job-related criteria when employees are affected by restructuring or business realignment, and that promotions and succession planning are made without regard to the age of the employee.
"We commend Hydro for their cooperation with EEOC to resolve this matter," said Julianne Bowman, district director of the Chicago District Office, which has jurisdiction over Hydro's plant in South Dakota. "Increasingly, we see employers using vague or subjective criteria to identify employees for promotion potential. Employers who rely on such subjective criteria run the risk of letting age bias creep into their decision making, whether it involves upper-level executives and managers or, as in this case, a team lead on the day shift."
Nick Pladson, acting director for the Minneapolis Area Office, added, "Hydro's willingness to work with EEOC after we presented our findings is commendable. With Hydro agreeing to modify its policies and reporting to us for the next several years, we hope that this company's employees will be allowed to compete freely for promotions and job opportunities based on their contributions in the workplace, not their age."
Luke McDermott, the plant manager of Hydro Extrusion USA, LLC's Yankton facility, said, "Hydro is committed to providing equal employment opportunities and to comply with all applicable equal employment opportunity laws and regulations. Although we disagree that there was any violation of law in this instance, we are happy to work collaboratively with the EEOC to bring this matter to a close and on being the best company to work for within the aluminum industry."
Individuals who believe they may be have been subjected to discrimination or retaliation may initiate the charge filing process online via this link https://publicportal.eeoc.gov/portal/ or select the "File a Charge" button on www.eeoc.gov.
The EEOC's Minneapolis Area Office is part of the agency's Chicago District Office, which is responsible for investigating charges of employment discrimination, administrative enforcement and the conduct of agency litigation in Iowa, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota.
The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at www.eeoc.gov. Stay connected with the latest EEOC news by subscribing to our email updates.