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Court Orders Company to Pay Woman $105,000 in Damages After Firing Her for Refusing to Retire at 65

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Court Orders Company to Pay Woman $105,000 in Damages After Firing Her for Refusing to Retire at 65
Source: Pinterest

Court Orders Company to Pay Woman $105,000 in Damages After Firing Her for Refusing to Retire at 65

Source: Pinterest

A woman who had worked at t J&M Industries Inc. for over twenty years had the rug pulled from under her when the company fired her. However, this was not due to a lack of productivity or efficiency. They fired her because she was approaching 65 years of age.

What Is Work Age Discrimination?

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Age discrimination is an illegal yet common practice against older people in the workforce. Companies tend to discharge them without due cause simply because they are closer to retirement age.
The Age Discrimination in Employment Act protects employees over the age of 40 from discrimination based on age “in hiring, promotion, discharge, compensation, or terms, conditions or privileges of employment.”

Subtle Questions and Eventual Dismissal

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As the employee approached her 65th birthday, the company’s managers began to ask her different questions in passing. “When are you going to retire?” “Why don’t you retire at 65?” and “What is the reason you are not retiring?” are some of the questions she got.
Just weeks before her birthday, she got a termination letter from the company, citing “economic uncertainty” in May 2020.

Legal Action

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The former employee quickly took legal action against the Louisiana-based manufacturing and distribution company. Through the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), she charged them to court, accusing them of violating the Age Discrimination in Employment Act.
The commission also mentioned all the discriminatory words and acts that led up to her termination.

The Company’s Defense

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The company’s lawyers defended it, saying that they did not violate the Act. Instead, they claimed that they had to terminate her employment due to economic reasons.
However, a few months after firing the older employee, they hired someone much younger for the role. To defend this, they claimed that they tasked him with “broader, more significant duties than she did.”

The Court Ruling

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Business Insider reported that J&M Industries agreed to settle the case by paying the former employee $105,000, covering back pay and liquidated damages.
The EEOC revealed this in a news release, as they were happy about the outcome. In addition, they hope that this would provide relief for the employee and also prevent future occurrences.

Future Preventive Measures

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The EEOC settled with stipulations to prevent this from happening to any other employee of J&M Industries. These include training for employees, revising company policies, and regular reporting to the EEOC.
In addition, the company must make its workforce aware of its standards and post a notice about its obligation to comply with the Age Discrimination in Employment Act.

Why Do Employers Discriminate?

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Employers discriminate against aged workers because they believe they are less competent at their jobs. As people tend to develop work-related musculoskeletal disorders, injuries, or health conditions as they age, most employers would rather have younger, more energetic staff.
Therefore, most employers are unkind to older workers and usually go for younger ones.

How Often Are Senior Americans Discriminated Against?

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Research has shown that the discrimination of senior Americans in the workforce is a huge ongoing problem. According to research from the AARP, 64% or around two-thirds of American adults age 50 and up experience workplace discrimination. In that same research, over 90% of this same group felt that worker discrimination against older people is commonplace in the United States.

Why Don't the Protections Work?

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In the United States, age discrimination is forbidden for employees over 40. However, this problem is still rampant in the country because the legal system can only address certain “harder” forms of worker age discrimination.
For the more subtle forms of workplace discrimination, most senior employees wouldn’t win their case. Therefore, many employers get away with discriminatory treatment.

Hard and Soft Age Discrimination

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According to a study in the European Journal of Ageing, there are two forms of discrimination. These are “hard” and “soft” discrimination. “Hard” discrimination includes illegal actions like unfair firings and severe harassment. However, the “soft” form of discrimination is exceedingly more common and harder to stop. These include bad jokes, mean comments, social isolation, and interpersonal relationships.

The Significance of Legal Action

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By taking a stance and winning the case, the EEOC has further emphasized the importance of preventing age discrimination at work. They have also shown that courts can hold companies accountable for discriminatory practices.
Other employers who might be thinking of wrongfully discharging their workers would have to rethink when they remember the huge fine they could pay.

The Importance of Equality

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Equality in the workplace is essential in every organization. Instead of wrongfully discharging the older employees, they need to make accommodations for them.
Furthermore, older workers have a lot of experience. They serve as beacons of guidance for the younger employees and can give greater insight into tough tasks. Therefore, employers need to stop age discrimination and promote unity in the workplace.