Another Way to Get Rid of an Older Worker

skiA New Jersey appeals court has dismissed an age discrimination lawsuit filed by a woman who was fired from her job  at Mountain Creek Resort in Vernon, NJ a few hours after she “raised her voice” at her boss upon learning she had to work on Christmas Eve.

A two-judge panel of the Appellate Division of the Superior Court of New Jersey recently refused to reinstate a lawsuit filed by Karen Murphy, who was fired at the age of 58 after working in the accounts payable department at the resort for 16 years. The lawsuit was originally dismissed on a pre-trial motion for summary judgment filed by the resort.

Appellate Division Judges Harry Carroll and Hany Mawla concluded that Murphy  offered “no evidence” that her termination was motivated by age discrimination.

Murphy was fired on Dec. 11, 2012 a few hours after she “raised her voice” at her supervisor, Lindsey Spasova, upon learning that she would have to work on Christmas Eve. Murphy also asserted that younger workers in her department formed “cliques” and that she was excluded from their groups.

 Carroll and Mawla ruled that Murphy failed to show retaliation because her “outburst” was not a formal grievance or complaint of discriminatory behavior.

The panel upheld a lower court finding that Murphy failed to show she knew the ages of the workers who replaced her.

Court documents show that Spasova filled Murphy’s job duties after firing Murphy and then hired ” four individuals … some of whom took over plaintiff’s job assignment.”   Spasova testified under oath that the four individuals in question were in their 20s and 30s. Despite this, the court said Murphy had no “personal knowledge” of the ages of the replacement workers.

Stefani Schwartz, who served as Murphy”s attorney, argued unsuccessfully that “it is obvious that the [c]ourt either did not consider, or failed to appreciate the significance of probative, competent evidence.”  Yes, obvious … but apparently Judges Carroll and Mawla didn’t think it was obvious enough.

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