High Prices for Bad Jokes about Age Discrimination

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

Price of jokes about old timers: $69k

Interviewing job candidates can be stressful. And it’s natural for hiring managers to blow off tension by joking about candidates they don’t intend to hire. But they should snicker with extreme caution.

When an employee at a professional staffing firm complained that hiring managers made fun of older job applicants behind their backs, the complainer got fired.

She filed an Age Discrimination in Employment Act retaliation lawsuit, which her former employer settled for $69,000.

Cite: EEOC v. Special Counsel, Inc.

$221,000 worth of age-related insults

A manager’s insults aimed at an over-40 employee – “old fat fart” was a choice one – earned the employer a $221,000 tab for damages.

After months of abuse, the employee was fired. When he sued for age discrimination, a federal jury awarded him $110,500. And because the employer’s conduct was willful, the damages were doubled.

Kight v. Autozone.

Welcome to the U.S., Herr Supervisor

A supervisor for an Austrian company told a U.S.-based employee that older workers were “worthless and ineffective.” A good move? Nein.

The 51-year-old employee told the supervisor he couldn’t get rid of people just because of their age. For his pains, he was fired and replaced by a 32-year-old.

The company eventually settled the ensuing age discrimination lawsuit for $500,000. It also agreed to ensure that none of its worldwide operations discriminate against workers who are covered by U.S. law.

Cite: EEOC v. Austrian Airlines.

Firm shot self in foot over ADEA

It isn’t very often that a company talks its way into a discrimination lawsuit. But it happened to a Chicago-based law firm.

The firm issued press statements indicating it had demoted partners to create opportunities for younger lawyers. The EEOC got wind, investigated, and filed an ADEA discrimination suit. A court ruled that even though none of the partners sought monetary damages for themselves, the EEOC could do so.

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