Tuscola County Road Commission hit with civil rights suit

CARO – A Tuscola County Road Commission employee has filed a lawsuit against the organization, alleging his civil rights have been violated through age discrimination – and now fears retaliation.

Tim Lee Hutchinson, 61, filed the lawsuit against the Tuscola County Road Commission March 21 in Tuscola County Circuit Court.

In his suit, Hutchinson – who is still employed with the road commission – alleges he did not get any of several road commission jobs he applied for in 2015 due to his age.

Through his complaint, Hutchinson alleges that as a result of the Tuscola County Road Commission’s “wrongful actions” he has “suffered and will continue to suffer from severe economic damages, including but not limited to lost wages, lost back pay, lost future pay, lost promotions, lost pay increases, and lost fringe benefits.”

Hutchinson seeks a judgment against the Tuscola County Road Commission for more than $25,000.

“He knows he is stuck and won’t be considered for promotion under the current regime and (it) will impact his retirement income significantly,” said Manda Danieleski, attorney for Hutchinson. “Now, he fears retaliation for the suit.”

Mike Tuckey, director of finance, Tuscola County Road Commission, said Friday it was too early for him to comment.

“Due to the fact that the road commission just received the documents a few hours ago, I cannot comment until consulting with the road commission’s labor attorney,” Tuckey said in a statement prepared for The Advertiser.

Hutchinson did not return a phone call by press time.

Danieleski told The Advertiser that Hutchinson is in a “protected class” and in Michigan that can mean older or younger.

According to his complaint, Hutchinson applied for several jobs with the road commission throughout the last half of 2015 and was not hired for any of them.

Hutchinson claims management of the commission uses a “retirement points” system that is an employee’s age plus years of service added together.  Further, Hutchinson said employees with 85 retirement points are eligible for retirement with health benefits and that he was on “this do not hire list.”

Hutchinson also claims that Superintendent/Manager Jay Tuckey “specifically stated that he did not want anyone of a certain age bracket” after allegedly hiring someone for a foreman’s position who retired after just two years on the job.

Hutchinson, who has worked for the commission since 2001, also names other workers who have 25 years and 35 years of service, respectively, who had lost out on jobs to co-workers with far less experience.

An answer to the lawsuit had not been filed with the court by press time.

Andrew Dietderich is editor of The Advertiser and can be reached at andrew@tcadvertiser.com

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