Former auto workers plan to sue NUMMI, Toyota

July 13, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
On Wednesday, Toyota and the NUMMI car plant are going to be sued. It's a federal class action lawsuit being filed by a group of workers laid-off when the plant shut down three months ago.

"We basically got screwed by NUMMI and Toyota and GM," says former NUMMI worker Sal Gomez.

Gomez is angry. He worked at the NUMMI auto plant for 25 years and when the factory shut down on April 1, he says his severance package was an insult.

"I should have got $72,000 and I'm only going to get $21,000," says Gomez.

Gomez got the minimum offering. To get the maximum amount, employees had to be on the job every day for the six months prior to the company shutdown. Gomez and 300 other NUMMI employees were on disability when the plant closed.

Now he and fellow workers are filing a federal class action lawsuit. They're claiming NUMMI and Toyota discriminated against them because of their disabilities.

"Why should I be penalized because I had my knee replaced because this is a work-related injury," says Gomez.

Michelle Cesar was on disability for two of the last six months NUMMI was open. She hopes to be a part of the suit.

"It wouldn't be about any additional money I would receive. It's more about the fact that a big corporation, you can't treat your employees this way," says Cesar.

According to ABC7 legal analyst Dean Johnson, joining a suit like this first requires a judge to designate the specific class or group that is impacted. Those in that group would be notified, then can decide whether to be a part of the lawsuit. He expects the defense to fight those who already took the severance package from joining the suit.

"One of the things that was concluded in that agreement was that everyone who took money agreed to waive any causes of action," says Johnson.

Sources tell ABC7 the workers' attorneys are already looking into whether that's true.

NUMMI representatives did not return ABC7's phone calls.


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