Society

Faygo Founder’s Grandson Sues Soda Company For Age Discrimination

| by Sarah Fruchtnicht

The grandson of the founder of Detroit’s soda company Faygo Beverages is suing the company for age discrimination after the 70-year-old says he was fired and replaced with a man half his age.

Former Faygo executive Hugh Rosenthal, whose Russian grandfather founded the company 107 years ago, says he was fired from his job as marketing director because of his age. Rosenthal was 68 years old at the time.

Rosenthal spent his whole life working at the company. He worked his way up from driving delivery trucks and working in the syrup room.

“I took so much pride in my work, knowing Grandfather would be proud of me,” Rosenthal told the Detroit Free Press. “And this is the thanks I get after 20 years? That’s outrageous!

“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,” he added. “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 maintains that if he had been younger “he would not have been terminated” in 2012, according to the suit filed in U.S. District Court on Wednesday.

He claims similarly situated employees who were younger than him did not lose their jobs.

He became director of marketing in 1992. On Nov. 21, 2011, he spotted a job posting on CareerBuilder.com for a “Brand Manager” which had duties identical to his own. He asked the head of human resources about the position and he “was informed that he was going to train his replacement — and then be terminated.”

He was fired on July 24, 2012, and he filed a discrimination charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that same day. On April 1, 2014, the EEOC granted him a “Right to Sue” notice.

He seeks lost wages and damages.

“I’m hoping Faygo comes to their senses and says, ‘OK, we’re sorry. We shouldn’t have terminated you,’” he told the Battle Creek Inquirer.

Sources: Battle Creek Inquirer, Detroit Free Press