Goodyear will alter a controversial performance evaluation system for its salaried employees, but the decision didn't prevent the filing of an age discrimination lawsuit stemming from the company's implementation of the system.
The Akron tire maker said Sept. 11 it will change its 18-month-old A-B-C grading system for salaried workers because it was confusing to managers and the ``forced distribution'' of grades wasn't getting the results the company wanted, a Goodyear spokesman said.
Under the A-B-C grading system, salaried employees were evaluated within their departments or work groups, and about 10 percent were given As, 80 percent Bs and 10 percent Cs. Workers receiving Cs weren't eligible for merit raises and were warned more Cs could lead to demotions or firings.
But a group of eight former and current Goodyear employees believes the evaluation system has another problem: It unfairly targets older workers. Attorneys representing the group filed a discrimination suit Sept. 12, on the heels of Goodyear's announcement it is changing its grading system.
Steven Bell, an attorney with Simon Law Firm in Cleveland and a co-counsel for the plaintiffs, said there is overwhelming evidence showing the grading system impacted a disproportionate number of ``older'' workers at Goodyear. Ohio law protects people 40 years of age or older in age discrimination cases, he said.
Goodyear's decision to change its system had nothing to do with the suit's potential filing, the spokesman said. The company's human resource department has been reviewing the system for several months and now needs to prepare to train people so a new system can be implemented in time for spring evaluations, he said.
The problem with the A-B-C system for Goodyear was the forced distribution of grades was done on a micro level, within individual work groups, rather than a macro-level, a misperception by managers that made apparent the need for more training, the spokesman said. Plaintiffs attorneys for the Goodyear employees filed the suit in Summit County Common Pleas Court as a class action, which must be certified as such by a judge.
The named plaintiffs in the case all are in their mid-50s or older, received C grades in their evaluations and suffered an ``adverse employment action'' as a result of that grade. In addition to economic damages, the suit seeks remedies for pain and suffering and reputation injuries caused by Goodyear.