Grandpa fired because of age, suit alleges. Company fined $400,000
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently brought suit against Central Freight Lines Inc. charging the company’s ruse of a reduction-in-force as a means to fire eight specific dockworkers based on their age.
The suit alleges that the older employees were often referred to as “grandpa”, “old farts” and “old bastards” by their supervisor. The very same supervisor was also partly responsible for identifying the employees to be terminated.
In another case, the fastener distribution company Advance Components is out $201,000 to it’s “old fashioned” national sales manager.
64-year-old Dan Miller, had over 20 years of experience, and was originally hired by Advance Components’ founder. Miller was ultimately fired because of his “old-fashioned” ways. Advanced Components’ then general manager Gary Craven preferred what he called a “30-30-30”. His hiring practices included a desire to hire employees in their thirties, with an IQ of 30 and pay them around $30,000.
If true, this type of hiring practice may be illegal because it wrongly assumes that age interferes with ones ability to perform in the workplace. The irony of this case is that Mr. Miller was actually Advance’s top producer and adored by customers.
Both of these cases point out the all to common practice of age discrimination and the hefty verdicts awarded the victims. Gary Wilson, a prominent Orlando area attorney says age discrimination can be subtle and advises older clients to watch out for such things as biased comments like the ‘grandpa’ label from the Freight Lines case. Wilson points out other things to be mindful of are disparate disciplines, promotion trends and a favoritism towards younger employees. The fact that your supervisor or boss is of equal or greater age does NOT prevent victims of discrimination from filing suit.
The best defense is a good offense when it comes to preventing discrimination in the workplace. Wilson’s practice which includes employment law, union representation and labor practices advises client employers to train managers and key personnel on equal employment opportunity (EEO) policies and procedures, especially on age discrimination. A written policy against age discrimination and enforcement is an important component of the EEOC guidelines.
Terminating employees because of their age violates The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (“ADEA”) of 1967. If you believe that you may have been discriminated against based on your age or if you are an employer that has questions about this issue, we encourage you to seek the counsel of Wilson McCoy, P.A.