Willard v. Huntington Ford, Inc., No. 19-1763 (6th Cir. 2020)Annotate this Case
Since 1997, Willard (born in 1953) has worked in automobile sales. Nationally, he performed within the top 125 of 3,500 Ford salespeople. Willard asserts that he faced “relentless” inappropriate statements about his age and the imminence of his retirement at Huntington Ford, where Willard was the oldest full-time new-car salesperson. When Willard complained, sales manager Calhoun told Willard that if he did not like it, he could leave. Willard reported the comments to general manager Schiller, who told Willard to stop taking new customers. Willard had minor disciplinary incidents in 2011, 2012, and 2014. In December 2016, Willard made a sarcastic remark to Duley, who lost her temper and “shoved” him. Duley resigned. Scoggin and Schiller suspended Willard for a week. After the suspension, they informed him that he had been terminated because he did not call in or show up for work and because of the Duley incident. Willard sued, alleging that Huntington misled him about the length of his suspension so that it could terminate him because of his age, citing the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, 29 U.S.C. 621–634, and Michigan’s Civil Rights Act. The Sixth Circuit reinstated the case. The district court failed to view the record in the light most favorable to Willard, leading it to conclude erroneously that he did not offer indirect evidence of age discrimination.