Category Archives: Age Discrimination

Blog arti­cles on: Age dis­crim­i­na­tion under either the fed­er­al Age Dis­crim­i­na­tion in Employ­ment Act of 1967 (29 USC 621) or the West Vir­ginia Human Rights Act of 1967 (W. Va. Code 5–11-1). Here is a list of our blog arti­cles on this cat­e­go­ry:

Fifth Circuit applies hostile work environment to age claims

Courts have some­times ques­tioned whether hos­tile work envi­ron­ment claims apply to all “fla­vors” of dis­crim­i­na­tion. Hos­tile work envi­ron­ment claims most fre­quent­ly arise in claims of sex dis­crim­i­na­tion  and race dis­crim­i­na­tion claims under Title VII of the Civ­il Rights Act of 1964, but age dis­crim­i­na­tion claims under fed­er­al law arise under a dif­fer­ent statute, the Age Dis­crim­i­na­tion in Employ­ment Act of 1967.

The Fifth Cir­cuit direct­ly held recent­ly that hos­tile work envi­ron­ment claims are encom­passed by age dis­crim­i­na­tion claims under the ADEA in Dedi­ol v. Best Chevro­let, Inc., — F.3d — (5th Cir. Sep­tem­ber 12, 2011).

Con­tin­ue read­ing Fifth Cir­cuit applies hos­tile work envi­ron­ment to age claims

Cleveland jury awards $900,000 against hospital in age discrimination case

Ellen Simon, an attor­ney in Cleve­land who authors the excel­lent blog, Ellen Simon’s Employ­ee Rights Post, recent­ly tried an age dis­crim­i­na­tion claim for plain­tiff Glo­ria Parks (a phle­botomist) against Cleveland’s Uni­ver­si­ty Hos­pi­tals Case Med­ical Cen­ter.

Ms. Parks had worked for the hos­pi­tal for 30 years when she was fired over a med­ical mis­take involv­ing her­self and anoth­er much younger employ­ee. The hos­pi­tal fired Ms. Parks, but not the much younger employ­ee.

The jury returned a ver­dict in favor of the plain­tiff (Ms. Parks) for $450,000 for her eco­nom­ic loss and $450,000 for “oth­er com­pen­sato­ry dam­ages”, accord­ing to Ms. Simon’s blog arti­cle. Based on the lim­it­ed infor­ma­tion I have so far, it looks like the “oth­er com­pen­sato­ry dam­ages” was an award for emo­tion­al dis­tress, The jury did not award puni­tive dam­ages.

So the ver­dict totals $900,000, and Ms. Simon will file a request for attor­neys’ fees’ fees and expens­es. While it is not clear from the arti­cle so far, I sus­pect the case was assert­ed for age dis­crim­i­na­tion under Ohio’s Fair Employ­ment Prac­tices Act (and not the fed­er­al ADEA).

Con­tin­ue read­ing Cleve­land jury awards $900,000 against hos­pi­tal in age dis­crim­i­na­tion case

Charleston, WV Jury Awards $1.7m in Age Discrimination Case, 10–1-09

On Octo­ber 1, 2009, a jury in Charleston, Kanawha Coun­ty, West Vir­ginia returned a ver­dict in an age dis­crim­i­na­tion case, award­ing James Nagy a total of $1,750,450.

The Law­suit

James Nagy filed suit in Charleston in March 2008 against West Vir­ginia Amer­i­can Water Com­pa­ny, alleg­ing that he was fired in March 2007 because of his age at 53, after 23 years of employ­ment.

James Nagy was rep­re­sent­ed by Maria W. Hugh­es and Stephen Weber at Kay Cas­to & Chaney PLLC. West Vir­ginia Amer­i­can Water Com­pa­ny was rep­re­sent­ed by Mychal Schulz at Dins­more & Shohl LLC.

The case is pend­ing in Cir­cuit Court in Kanawha Coun­ty, West Vir­ginia, before Judge Jen­nifer Bai­ley-Walk­er.

The Ver­dict

That $1,750,450 ver­dict con­sist­ed of:

  • $150,000 for humil­i­a­tion,

Award of Attorney’s Fees and Expens­es

Under the West Vir­ginia Human Rights Act (which pro­hibits age and oth­er forms of dis­crim­i­na­tion in the work­place), Nagy’s coun­sel filed a motion addi­tion­al­ly request­ing attor­neys’ fees and expens­es.

Judge Bai­ley-Walk­er award­ed the plain­tiff total attorney’s fees of $177,772.50, and $8,855.33 in expens­es.

Appeal

The Defen­dant is in the process of appeal­ing.  The issue of attor­neys’ fees was resolved by Judge Bai­ley-Walk­er on June 8, 2010, so the appeal process is in its ear­ly stages as of the date of this arti­cle being updat­ed (July 31, 2010). As things devel­op in the appeal, I will update this arti­cle.

July 31, 2010

Fourth Circuit rules that pension contribution rules may be age biased

The Fourth Cir­cuit Court of Appeals, in an unpub­lished opin­ion, addressed whether an employer’s pen­sion con­tri­bu­tion rules may con­sti­tute age dis­crim­i­na­tion under the Age Dis­crim­i­na­tion in Employ­ment Act of 1967, in Equal Employ­ment Oppor­tu­ni­ty Com­mis­sion v. Bal­ti­more Coun­ty, –F.3d. — (4th Cir. 2010). The unan­i­mous opin­ion was writ­ten by Judge Den­nis Shed, and was joined by Judge Roger Gre­go­ry and Arther L. Alar­con (Senior Judge on Ninth Cir­cuit, sit­ting by des­ig­na­tion).

Jackson County jury awards $2.1 million in age case

On March 17, 2010, a jury in Jack­son Coun­ty in West Vir­ginia award­ed Jerold John Rice Jr. rough­ly $2.1 mil­lion in an age dis­crim­i­na­tion case against The Burke-Par­sons-Bowl­by Cor­po­ra­tion, Stel­la-Jones US Hold­ings Cor­po­ra­tion, and Stel­la-Jones, Inc., tried in Judge Thomas C. Evans III’s court.

Mr. Rice was rep­re­sent­ed by Mark Atkin­son and Paul Framp­ton at Atkin­son & Polak, PLLC, and the defen­dants were rep­re­sent­ed by Roger Wolfe at Jack­son & Kel­ly PLLC in Charleston, and Kevin Hyde at Foley & Lard­ner, LLP in Jack­sonville, Flori­da.

Here is a quick run-down of what was award­ed in the case:

  • Back pay: $142,659 award­ed by jury.
  • Pre-judg­ment inter­est: $11,791.84 from date of ter­mi­na­tion through tri­al.
  • Front pay: $1,991,332.00 award­ed by jury (from rough­ly age 48 through retire­ment age at 67).
  • Emo­tion­al dis­tress: $0.
  • Puni­tive dam­ages: Jury did not answer ques­tion affir­ma­tive­ly which would have allowed award of puni­tive dam­ages.
  • Total judg­ment based on jury’s ver­dict: $2,145,782.84, plus post-judg­ment inter­est on that amount at 7% per annum.
  • Attor­neys’ fees: $117,235 award­ed by judge (based on $450 an hour for Mark Atkin­son and $300 per hour for Paul Framp­ton).
  • Lit­i­ga­tion expens­es: $20,324.16 award­ed by judge.
  • Total award: $2,283,342.00 (based on jury ver­dict, pre-judg­ment inter­est, attor­neys’ fees and expens­es) plus post-judg­ment inter­est at 7% per annum.

The Rice case illus­trates the risk employ­ers face when they ter­mi­nate an old­er, good, long-stand­ing employ­ee, and replace him or her with a much younger per­son with lit­tle or no expe­ri­ence for the employ­er.

What Hap­pened?

Mr. Rice at the time of his ter­mi­na­tion (in 2009) was age 47 and had worked for Burke-Par­sons-Bowl­by Cor­po­ra­tion for 24 years. When Mr. Rice was ter­mi­nat­ed he was the cor­po­rate con­troller.

Con­tin­ue read­ing Jack­son Coun­ty jury awards $2.1 mil­lion in age case

Arbitration Agreements in Union Contacts are Enforceable; US Supreme Court in Penn Plaza v. Pyett

USSupremeCourtRightFountain 4/1/09: The US Supreme Court ruled that “pre-dis­pute arbi­tra­tion agree­ments” in col­lec­tive bar­gain­ing agree­ments (union con­tracts) are enforce­able, in Penn Plaza PLLC v. Pyett, 129 S. Ct. 1456 (2009) (5–4 deci­sion).

This was an age dis­crim­i­na­tion case under the Age Dis­crim­i­na­tion in Employ­ment Act of 1967 (ADEA). The plain­tiff was a mem­ber of a union, and the col­lec­tive bar­gain­ing agree­ment (union con­tract) required sub­mit­ting age dis­crim­i­na­tion claims to bind­ing arbi­tra­tion.

The US Supreme Court had pre­vi­ous­ly ruled, but not in a labor union set­ting, that arbi­tra­tion agree­ments for ADEA claims were enforce­able under the Fed­er­al Arbi­tra­tion Act, 9 U.S.C. § 1 et seq. (Gilmer v. Interstate/Johnson Lane Corp., 500 U.S. 20, 26–33 (1991)). So the real issue in Penn Plaza was whether there would be a dif­fer­ent result because of the union con­tract set­ting and the Nation­al Labor Rela­tions Act.

Con­tin­ue read­ing Arbi­tra­tion Agree­ments in Union Con­tacts are Enforce­able; US Supreme Court in Penn Plaza v. Pyett

Supreme Court “fills in the blank” to recognize retaliation claims for federal employees under ADEA; Gomez-Perez v. Potter, 2008

USPS Logo 5–27-08: The US Supreme Court in Gomez-Perez v. Pot­ter, 128 S. Ct. 1931 (2008) ruled that the Age Dis­crim­i­na­tion in Employ­ment Act of 1967, 29 U.S.C. § 621 et seq., pro­hib­it­ed retal­i­a­tion against fed­er­al employ­ees who had com­plained about age dis­crim­i­na­tion, even though the fed­er­al employ­ee sec­tion of the ADEA did not express­ly pro­hib­it retal­i­a­tion. This was a 6–3 deci­sion. The major­i­ty opin­ion was writ­ten by Jus­tice Ali­to, in which Jus­tices Stevens, Kennedy, Souter, Gins­burg, and Brey­er joined. Jus­tices Roberts, Scalia, and Thomas dis­sent­ed, with dis­sent­ing opin­ions being writ­ten by Jus­tices Roberts and Thomas.

The Gap in the Fed­er­al Employ­ee Sec­tion of the ADEA

This was the prob­lem under the ADEA: The ADEA’s main sec­tion, in pro­hibit­ing dis­crim­i­na­tion against employ­ees 40 and old­er, only deals with pri­vate indus­try employ­ees and state gov­ern­ment employ­ees. I will call this sec­tion of the ADEA, the “pri­vate and state employ­ee sec­tions”.

Con­tin­ue read­ing Supreme Court “fills in the blank” to rec­og­nize retal­i­a­tion claims for fed­er­al employ­ees under ADEA; Gomez-Perez v. Pot­ter, 2008

US Supreme Court broadens scope of permissible evidence for proving discrimination; Sprint/United Management v. Mendelsohn; 2/26/08

US Supreme Court Feb­ru­ary 26, 2008: The Unit­ed States Supreme Court hand­ed down its opin­ion in Sprint/United Man­age­ment Co. v. Mendel­sohn, 128 S. Ct. 1140 (2008) (Find­Law site opin­ion). The issue in this fed­er­al age dis­crim­i­na­tion case (ADEA) was whether the plain­tiff could present evi­dence to the jury about oth­er alleged old­er dis­crim­i­na­tion vic­tims, where the deci­sion made to ter­mi­nate the oth­er indi­vid­u­als was not made by the same deci­sion-mak­er that ter­mi­nat­ed the plain­tiff.

The employ­er (Sprint) con­tend­ed that evi­dence of oth­er alleged age dis­crim­i­na­tion vic­tims was not admis­si­ble where the deci­sion-mak­ers for those oth­er vic­tims were dif­fer­ent from the deci­sion-mak­ers who took action against the plain­tiff.

The Supreme Court reject­ed the employer’s argu­ment and said that the evi­dence of oth­er vic­tims might be admis­si­ble, even if dif­fer­ent deci­sion-mak­ers were involved. The tri­al court should con­duct a “bal­anc­ing test” for admis­si­bil­i­ty of dis­crim­i­na­tion against oth­er employ­ees by dif­fer­ent super­vi­sors, where the rel­e­vance of the oth­er employ­ees’ sit­u­a­tion is bal­anced against unfair prej­u­dice to the employ­er.