(Photo by John Cook) The recent expansion at Decker Equipment Co. along Enterprise Drive in Vassar is shown on the left of this photo. The company has responded to a lawsuit filed by its former controller, Brenda Rowe, who claims she was fired in 2018 due to her age and after she hurt her knee. The company denies the allegations.

Brenda Rowe has only herself to blame for filing a “vengeful” lawsuit after losing her position at Vassar’s Decker Equipment Co., according to the company.

Rowe, former controller of the company and receiving an annual salary of $90,000 according to Decker Equipment, claims the company fired her in 2018 due to her age and after she hurt her knee.

Rowe notes she was 58 years old when filing the lawsuit in late December 2020.

In its response to the lawsuit in Tuscola County Circuit Court, the company denies “firing” Rowe, maintaining it eliminated her position for “legitimate, non-discriminatory business reasons.”

Decker Equipment Co. claims the “business decision” to eliminate Rowe’s position “was not discriminatory, even if made unwisely, in error or was a misjudgment.”

Decker Equipment notes the company had and has an anti-discrimination policy in place. It describes Rowe’s lawsuit as a “vengeful complaint filed in retaliation against her employer.”

Rowe was hired by Decker Equipment Co. owner John Chase as company controller July 5, 2016, according to the company. Rowe states in her lawsuit that she’s a Saginaw County resident and “was paid a lucrative salary making over six figures per year including a 401(k)” pension account.

Decker Equipment Co., with several locations in Vassar, manufactures and sells school and institutional parts and equipment. Rowe states that on Dec. 30, 2017, while she was on the plant floor helping count parts to “get a certain job confirmed,” she tore the meniscus in her left knee.

Decker Equipment responds that it lacks knowledge or information sufficient to form a belief about Rowe’s claim.

After incurring the knee injury, Rowe states she filed a claim under the Michigan Workers’ Disability Compensation Act and received benefits. She claims that due to her knee injury, she underwent surgery March 9, 2018, and returned to work April 9, 2018, only to be fired by Chase four days later.

Rowe alleges she was replaced in her controller position by Kim Pink, a woman whom Rowe claims “is in her 30s.” Decker Equipment denies replacing Rowe with Pink.

Rowe alleges Chase “claimed pretextual reasons for her termination claiming it was based on a ‘reorganization within her department.’” Rowe claims that wasn’t the real reason she was fired, stressing that she held the only controller’s position.

Decker Equipment denies those allegations.

The cause of any “alleged injuries and damages suffered by (Rowe) are the result of (Rowe’s) own conduct,” according to the company’s answer in court documents, filed by Southfield lawyer Caryn J. Devaney.

Rowe alleges the company retaliated against her when it “terminated” her employment because she filed for and received workers’ compensation benefits. Decker Equipment Co. denies that claim.

Decker Equipment seeks dismissal of the lawsuit, asking for costs and attorney fees incurred in defending Rowe’s “wrongful” lawsuit.

Decker Equipment Co. moved in about 2007 from Oakland County to Vassar, and operates from buildings at 215 S. Sherman St., 50 Enterprise Drive and its newest location at 82 Enterprise Drive.

Workers in the new 28,000-square-foot building will manufacture signs, and the structure will house new printing equipment.