Tepro, Inc., pays $600,000 to settle a class action age discrimination lawsuit brought by the Equal Opportunity Commission (“EEOC“). According to published accounts, Tepro discriminated against a class of 25 employees when it subjected the individuals to layoff because of their age. You are not allowed to put in place a policy which singles out employees over the age of 40 and in which the policy has a discriminatory affect. In this case, Tepro reclassified employees in the protected age group, age 40 and over, from “Tech II” to “Tech III” positions -through the use of misrepresentations, coercion, or threats – and that this reclassification resulted in the reclassified employees losing their seniority dates and ultimately being laid off. Many times companies put in place strategic and well-thought out plans to single out older employees under the guise of legitimate layoffs. That seems to be the case here. In addition to paying this large amount in the form of a settlement, the company also has to follow the additional rules issued by the Judge in this case, which include:
enjoins Tepro from laying off employees because of their age in the future;
requires that Tepro develop a new layoff policy;
requires that Tepro develop a new age discrimination policy;
requires Tepro to provide annual training on age discrimination to all employees in its Winchester, Tenn. facility;
requires a high-level executive of Tepro to appear at the conclusion of the training in person or via video conference to announce Tepro’s non-discrimination age policy and the consequences for violating such policy;
allows EEOC to monitor and review compliance with the consent decree; and
requires Tepro to post a notice of the resolution of the lawsuit in the workplace.
This case illustrates the legal liability a company has when it violates the Age Discrimination Act of 1967 (“ADEA”). As made clear in the ADEA, a company cannot single out people over the age of 40. If you believe you are the victim of age discrimination in the workplace, you should protect your rights afforded to you by the ADEA.
“This resolution demonstrates EEOC’s resolve to continue its efforts in litigating systemic cases and in eliminating stereotypes regarding the abilities and skills of older workers,” said EEOC General Counsel P. David Lopez.