The man’s grandfather was one of two Feigenson brothers from Russia, who started the company based on frosting recipes that later turned into flavored sodas. He says he was replaced by a man half his age — and learned about his termination when he noticed a job posting that listed details identical to his job in 2012, reports the Detroit Free Press.
“I took so much pride in my work, knowing Grandfather would be proud of me. And this is the thanks I get after 20 years? That’s outrageous!” he said in an interview. “My first reaction was that I was betrayed by my friends. I had been going to lunch with these guys for 20 years every day. Then I was angry. My work record was as good as a work record could be. … There was no legitimate business reason to let me go.”
He claims that after working for the company since 1992, he noticed a job posting for “brand manager” in the fall of 2011 on a job site. When he asked someone in Human Resources about it, he says he was told he’d be training his replacement and would then be terminated.
He filed a discrimination charge with the the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on the day he was fired in July 2012, and received a “Right to Sue” notice from the commission on April 1, 2014. The former marketing director then filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court last week.
He claims in his suit that if he had been younger, “he would not have been terminated,” and that other employees younger than him weren’t given the boot. He was hired in 1992.
While his lawyer says Faygo is arguing that he was an independent contractor and not an actual employee, and thus not covered under the 1967 Age Discrimination in Employment Act, his lawsuit disputes that, and says the company’s undisclosed reasons for firing him “were inaccurate, untrue” and “manufactured as a pretext to cover up” the age discrimination.
“Every day I walked in the building, I walked past the picture of my grandfather in the lobby … there he is, standing in front of a 1920 Ford truck that says Feigenson Brothers on it,” he said. “There was a huge pride just being part of it.”
National Beverage owns Faygo, and has not commented publicly on the lawsuit.
Faygo accused of age discrimination – by founder’s grandson [Detroit Free Press]