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August 26, 2011 > NUMMI and disabled auto workers settle

NUMMI and disabled auto workers settle

Submitted By Christopher Herrera

A $6 million settlement has been reached in a case brought by disabled auto workers who claimed they were unfairly excluded from severance benefits when the New United Motor Manufacturing (NUMMI) plant in Fremont, CA, shut its doors last year. A motion for preliminary court approval of the settlement was filed today. If approved, the settlement will resolve a lawsuit - Cookson et al v. NUMMI, et al., C10-02931 CRB - that was filed in the U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, on July 14, 2010. The suit alleged that NUMMI and Toyota violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by denying bonuses and transitional services to qualified workers who were on leaves of absence due to their own medical conditions.

Many of the disabled workers had been employed at the plant for 25 to 30 years, yet their years of service at the plant were not considered in their severance package because of their medical leave status. This resulted in losses of up to $38,000 each.

"I worked for NUMMI for 25 years, but I was offered the same severance as a person who had worked one year," said plaintiff David Botelli. "The only reason I wasn't working was that I was injured on the job - I got hurt working for NUMMI. And when I was released by my doctor, NUMMI would not allow me to return."

Plaintiff June Andrade reported that she was prevented from returning to work after recovering from surgery for an on-the-job injury, and was excluded from transitional employment services that were offered at the automotive plant. Andrade added, "I joined the suit because it wasn't fair to treat the disabled workers less favorably-we were all part of the NUMMI team."

Former NUMMI workers also filed charges with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). As a part of the settlement, NUMMI entered into a conciliation agreement with the EEOC.

The NUMMI plant was the last remaining auto manufacturing plant on the West Coast.

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