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.”