A federal appeals court has reinstated an age discrimination facility filed by a 41-year-old employee who allegedly said at his dismissal that he was fired for "standing up this year."
Kenneth James Lowe, born in 1948, began working for Tucson, Arizona-based Walbro LLC in its Cass City, Michigan, carburetor factory when he was 18, following Wednesday's decision by the 6th U.S. District Court of Appeals in Cincinnati.
Mr. Lowe was promoted several times and became an area manager in 2014, responsible for the maintenance of the entire facility, the decision says.
According to Walbro, the plant's work began to change significantly around 2009 or 201
In June 2016, Walbro hired Tom Davidson, 35, as general manager, and about six months later, he removed two subordinates who maintain the blow molding machine and robotic equipment from reporting to Mr. Lowe on the basis that Mr. Lowe's understanding of robotics and blow molding was limited. This left him to manage only part of the building as well as to carry out general maintenance of the facility.
Mr. Lowe claimed that during the approximately two-year period he and Mr. Davidson overlapped at Walbro, David Davidson made a series of disappointing statements about Mr. Lowe's age, including calling him an "old man" and asking him when he was planning to retire.
When he was told in June 2018 that he would be fired, Mr. Lowe alleged Mr Davidson why and was told: "Well, you're kind of getting there in several years, you're retired, you go one way and the company goes the other." Mr Davidson and a staff member denied this.
Mr. Lowe filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court in Bay City, Michigan, alleging violations of Michigan & # 39 ;s Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act, which granted the company & # 39;
The District Court cited the conversation that allegedly took place at the end of Mr. Lowes' but failed to focus specifically on the meaning of the language with respect to "Mr. Lowe's age discrimination claim, "the verdict said.
" We have no difficulty in concluding that "you are kind of getting there this year, you are at retirement age" comment constitutes direct evidence of discrimination, "it said.  "The most natural reading of Davidson's response is that Lowe's age was the reason Walbro fired him as a unit, regardless of which specific members of the company's decision – making team may have had an animus against him," it said.
, Walbro's account of why it fired Lowe – that it ruled in good faith that his position was no longer necessary – is credible, "but Lowe's account is also reasonable,
" A reasonable jury could conclude that Davidson was biased against Lowe due to Lowe's age from the beginning of Davidson's service based on Davidson's repeated age – based remarks.
"The same jury could similarly doubt that Davidson actually had any serious concerns about Lowe's job performance, and considered that if he did, there would have been some documentary evidence of Lowe's alleged poor performance on the record, or that Davidson apparently would have communicated his concerns to Lowe at some point, "the decision said in which he reversed the court's decision and condemned the case for further proceedings. "We are clearly pleased. It is a published decision that can serve as a future precedent" in cases where discriminatory statements are made.
Walbro's lawyer, David Cessante, a member of the Clark Hill PLC's working and employment group, said in a statement. , "We have read the opinion of the Sixth Circuit and do not respect the court's ruling."
In May, a U.S. district court in San Jose, California, refused to deny age discrimination in a lawsuit against HP Inc. and Hewlett Packard Enterprise Co. by former employees, stating that they had provided sufficient evidence to proceed.