JOHNSTOWN, Pa. (AP) — FreightCar America is illegally laying off workers to avoid paying them pension benefits, according to a lawsuit filed by employees and backed by the United Steelworkers union.
Tom McCarthy, vice president of human resources, for the Chicago-based railcar manufacturer said the lawsuit was ''without merit.''
The lawsuit, filed Wednesday in federal court, stems from a series of layoffs affecting more than 200 workers.
Seventy of the workers were laid off just months short of qualifying for pensions. A second wave of layoffs announced May 31 includes about 100 workers who will be prevented from collecting pensions or health and life insurance benefits as a result, the suit said.
Joe Stuligross, a United Steelworkers attorney, said the company told the union that it could not afford to let a large group of employees reach 20 years of service because it would cost the company tens of millions of dollars in retiree benefits.