A car dealership in San Antonio, TX, thought salespeople had to be young to sell a youth-oriented product line, but that was a mistake the company will have to pay six figures to erase.

The EEOC sued Universal Toyota after several over-40 Toyota salespeople complained that they’d been prevented from selling Toyota’s Scion brand, as well. Managers told them they were too old to sell Scions, which are marketed to a youthful demographic. Younger salespeople, however, were allowed to sell both Toyotas and Scions.

The dealership agreed to pay $140,000 to settle the litigation.

Takeaway for HR: There are a few occupations for which being under a certain age is a Bona Fide Occupational Qualification, or BFOQ, and employers can legally refuse to employ older people. But these occupations are generally limited to those involving driving, flying or very strenuous physical demands. Most employers can’t rely on the BFOQ defense if they discriminate against people over 40.

Cite: EEOC v. Judson Motors Ltd.

photo credit: David Hilowitz

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