Faygo Founder’s Grandson Sues Iconic Pop Company For Discrimination

Hugh Rosenthal, the grandson of founder Ben Feigenson, is suing the company for age discrimination.

After 20 years of working for Faygo, Hugh Rosenthal is suing Faygo for discrimination. He said he was fired from the company that produces soda pop because of his age. (Photo: Facebook)
After 20 years of working for Faygo, Hugh Rosenthal is suing Faygo for discrimination. He said he was fired from the company that produces soda pop because of his age. (Photo: Facebook)

Hugh Rosenthal, the grandson of founder Ben Feigenson, said he felt betrayed, then became angry after losing his job as a marketing director at Faygo, which has been bottling soft drinks and serving them in the Detroit area for more than a century.

Rosenthal, now 70, claims in a lawsuit filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court that he lost his job two years ago simply because of his age, the Detroit Free Press reports. In the suit, which seeks lost wages and damages, he argues that if he’d been younger “he would not have been terminated.”

“I took so much pride in my work knowing Grandfather would be proud of me,” he told the Detroit Free Press in an interview. “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 said. “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.”

Hired in 1992, Rosenthal was the director of marketing at the plant located on Gratiot Avenue and he spent the next two decades marketing the soda pop, inspired by a a cake frosting recipes. Faygo was established in 1920 by two brothers, one of them Rosenthal’s grandfather, Ben Feigenson.

“As a family member being dismissed, it’s horrible,” Rosenthal told the Free Press.

Rosenthal said he began seeing signs that Faygo was looking to replace him when he saw a job posting for a “Brand Manager” online with duties identical to his.

Rosenthal went to the company’s human resources department and was told he would be asked to train his replacement and would be terminated, according to the lawsuit.

“Every day I walked in the building, I walked past the picture of my grandfather in the lobby … there he is, standing in front of a 1920 Ford truck that says Feigenson Brothers on it. There a huge pride just being part of it,” Rosenthal said.

Rosenthal was fired on July 24, 2012, and filed a discrimination charge the same day with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which issued a “right to sue” decision in April of this year.

Rosenthal, the third generation to work at the family business, was born and raised in Detroit by father, a doctor, and his mother, a social worker. He attended Mumford high school and went to the University of Michigan.

“We are all about Detroit,” Rosenthal said, explaining that he lawsuit was a last resource and not something he relished filing. “I’d always wanted to work at Faygo. It’s sort of in my blood.”

Lee Jacobsen June 23, 2014 at 09:09 PM
At first glance being fired from the family business seems harsh. However, we, as observers, only know one side of the story. 70 years old, worked for Faygo 20 years, means he hired on at age 50. Why so late in life? Did the family hire him to give him a break? The age of 70 seems old enough to slow down somewhat, but everyone wants to control their own fate if possible. Perhaps now would be a good time to write a memoir, or book. Employment in Michigan is by 'free will', you have the free will to leave employment at any time, and the employer has the free will to let one go at any time. Age discrimination will be hard to prove. With his experience, and contacts, he should be able to land on his feet as a consultant. Also, what kind of severance package did he receive? Do any GM presidents make it past age 65 before stepping down? Rosenthal had 5 bonus years. Now if he were the owner, (why wasn't he?), he could call the shots, like Warren Buffett, and stay until age 105.......
Joseph Borrajo June 24, 2014 at 08:27 AM
Which way did he go? which way did he go? He went for a diluted Faygo! P3
Jill June 24, 2014 at 10:20 AM
Faygo has not been owned by the family since 1986. It's owned by a corporation in Florida. This article makes it sound like the grandson is suing his family. This is not the case. It has not been family owned in 28 years. The family was amazing and never would have done something so low to anyone.
Sue Czarnecki June 24, 2014 at 12:01 PM
Faygo - sugar in a can.
Lee Jacobsen June 25, 2014 at 02:45 AM
Wonderfully flavored sugar in a can,and a Detroit tradition..... How was being let go, at age 70 no less, a 'low' action on Fayco's part? There is a reason why 70 year old football players are let go, Jason Hanson, in his 40s, knew when to 'move on' for the good of the corporation known as the Detroit Lions. Don't want to move on? Then you get fired......no reason need be given, and it is business, not a 'low blow'.


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