Former California autoworkers get $6M settlement

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Toyota Motor Corp. and the company that ran California’s only auto manufacturing plant have agreed to pay $6 million to settle a lawsuit by former workers who claim they were illegally denied severance benefits.

Seven workers who were on medical leave in the six months before the New United Motor Manufacturing plant in Fremont closed last year allege that NUMMI and Toyota violated the Americans With Disabilities Act by refusing to give them bonuses that were offered to employees who worked during that time.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission announced the settlement Thursday. NUMMI will give $3.8 million and Toyota will contribute $2.2 million to a fund for all workers who missed out on the bonuses.

“Toyota’s intention, from the beginning, was to mitigate the effects of NUMMI’s closure on the plant’s employees,” Toyota spokesman Javier Moreno said late Thursday, noting that the carmaker had paid nearly $280 million to help NUMMI employees who lost their jobs when the plant closed in 2010.

“While we do not believe Toyota is liable in respect to this lawsuit, we are pleased that all parties have reached a conclusion in this litigation,” Moreno said.

If a federal judge approves, the deal could bring the plaintiffs about $31,000 each.

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