EEOC Puts a Low Price Tag on Age Discrimination

When an employer engages in age discrimination, the repercussions are severe for the victims. Most suffer the loss of a job that might have sustained them for years.

By contrast, employers who get caught in the act of engaging in age discrimination often receive a slap on the wrist. That’s what happened last month when the EEOC settled two blatant cases of age discrimination.

Professional Endodonics, PC, of Southfield, Michigan, an oral surgery practice, will pay $47,000 to settle an age discrimination lawsuit brought by the EEOC on behalf of Karen Rueral, who was fired in 2016, four days after her 65th birthday. She had worked for the company for 37 years.   Professional Endodonics supposedly had a “policy” requiring employees to retire at age 65.

The EEOC also agreed to a $50,000 settlement with Diverse Lynx, LLC, an IT staffing company that describes itself as being headquartered in Princeton, N.J., with  an “off-short delivery center” in New Delhi, India. Hoovers.com estimates  Diverse Lynx revenues at $12.64 million a year.

After learning an applicant’s date of birth, Diverse Lynx sent the applicant (who was not identified) an email stating that he would no longer be considered for the position because he was “born in 1945” and “age will matter.”  Needless to say, under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), age shouldn’t matter.

The ADEA entitles victims of intentional age discrimination to recover monetary loss, doubled.

The EEOC is touting other elements of the settlements – mainly that the employers agreed to provide their employees, including managers and supervisors, with  training that addresses federal anti-discrimination laws, and complaint and reporting procedures. But training is not the problem for most employers who engage in age discrimination in employment. They have legal staff and Human Resources Departments that already are trained in the law. They know that age discrimination is illegal but they do it anyway.

Training is of questionable value when employers already have HR departments and legal staff.

Clearly, the hypothetical benefits of training employees who work at these companies won’t help Ms. Rueral and the unidentified applicant at Diverse Lynx. They don’t work at these companies because they were the victims of age discrimination.

Ms. Rueral is unlikely to find an equivalent job at the age of 65. She’s received what one assumes is the equivalent of a year’s pay for an administrative job – sans benefits. The unidentified applicant in the Diverse Lynx case was a denied a job in the lucrative IT industry, which (according to Glassdoor)  pays $120,186 per year for Software Architects.  He may not be a Software Architect but $50,000 won’t go very far unless he or she moves to New Delhi, India.

The EEOC is charged with prosecuting age discrimination under the ADEA, which provides for monetary damages that equal the amount of money the victim lost, doubled in the case of intentional age discrimination. This is what the EEOC should be seeking in settlements.  After-all, a settlement permits a discriminatory employer to avoid the astronomical astronomical cost of litigation.

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