Age discrimination claim hinged on man's compensation

by on December 15, 2008 · 0 Comment POSTED IN: HR Info Center

Judge was swayed by the replacements’ pay in ADEA lawsuit

As you know, if you fire an older worker and replace him with a younger one who makes substantially less money, you’re facing exposure to an age discrimination lawsuit

Younger replacements

Here’s a case where an employer “eliminated” a 51-year-old man’s position and then divided his responsibilities between two other members of a protected class of workers – women.

Together, the women – both of whom were in their 20s or 30s – earned two-and-one-half times what the man had earned.

You might think the employer had a good case when the man sued for age discrimination, but you’d be wrong.

In this case, the court agreed that the man’s termination was a pretext for age discrimination.

The man won his age discrimination lawsuit and was awarded $336,000.

Eliminated or shuffled?

In issuing its decision, the court noted that the company saved little, if any, money by laying the man off.

His job hadn’t been eliminated, but given to two younger individuals. And the employer couldn’t come up with a legitimate reason for firing the man. Obviously, it wasn’t to save money. And their claim that the job had been eliminated was suspect: in reality, it had been divided in half, not eliminated.

Bottom line: if you fire an older worker, you’d better be able to document the business reason for eliminating his position.

Cite: Johnson v. Washington Convention Center Authority.

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