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Age discrimination rules Oklahoma

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  • Age discrimination rules Oklahoma

    I was President of a US division of a multinational company based in the UK. They have a history of hiring Presidents in their 30s and 40s and then getting rid of them when they reach their 50s, regardless of performance. Their company annual report says that certain classes of executives (board level) are required to retire at age 60.

    I had exceptional performance in my role as President. My company even received an award as the top performing company in the entire group when I was 49. A few weeks after receiving the award, I was taken out of my role and shuffled into a corporate role which I said I didn't want and which was widely understood by fellow employees as a demotion - even though it was billed as a promotion.

    I asked repeatedly for management to give me some guidelines on what I was expected to accomplish and how I would be measured, but the refused to do so.

    8 months later (a month after my 50th birthday), I was terminated. At the time of termination, I was given a good reference letter. I was replaced by someone about 8-10 years younger who had no experience in general management.

    The corporate CEO is 41. He took over at age 38, replacing an executive who was asked to retire at age 59.

    There's no smoking gun, but there's a history within the group of firing Presidents when they get into their 50s. In fact, other than the very few Presidents who got promoted to the next level (and had to retire at 60 by the company guidelines, anyway), I don't know of any company Presidents who made it to 60.

    So how easy is it to make a case in a situation like this where I'm going to be relying on statistical evidence? Obviously, I wish there were a letter from my ex-boss saying that I'm too old for the job, but there isn't, so I only have indirect evidence.

    Also, the division had exceptional performance when I was in charge (127% return on capital employed, 30+ % annual growth in profits), but when they replaced me with the guy who doesn't know what he's doing, performance has started to drop off. Since I own some shares of the parent company, can I sue them for the harm they've done to the company by their actions?

    Thanks.

  • #2
    Unless you find a "smoking gun" memo during the discovery process, statistical evidence is all you have and this can be helpful in an ADEA case. If the statistical evidence supports that age discrimination could have occurred, then the burden shifts to the employer to show some other (legal) basis for its decision making. If the er can do that, then the burden shifts back to you to show that their explanation is merely pretext to over up discrimination. At one time statistical evidence showing adverse impact or disparate treatment was not allowed for ADEA cases like it is for Title VII cases, but that got overturned a few years ago.

    You have the right to seek out an attorney who can closely review the full information you can provide and who can then better advise you.
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    No trees were destroyed in the sending of this message, but a bunch of electrons and phosphors have been a tad inconvenienced.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by The Masked Poster View Post
      Unless you find a "smoking gun" memo during the discovery process, statistical evidence is all you have and this can be helpful in an ADEA case. If the statistical evidence supports that age discrimination could have occurred, then the burden shifts to the employer to show some other (legal) basis for its decision making. If the er can do that, then the burden shifts back to you to show that their explanation is merely pretext to over up discrimination. At one time statistical evidence showing adverse impact or disparate treatment was not allowed for ADEA cases like it is for Title VII cases, but that got overturned a few years ago.

      You have the right to seek out an attorney who can closely review the full information you can provide and who can then better advise you.
      That's about what I expected.

      I talked with an attorney (he was recommended by several attorneys in the area, so I assume he's pretty good) and he suggested that I file the EEOC complaint first and have them do the investigation. If they find grounds for a complaint, then it gives him more ammunition to sue.

      Is he just being lazy or is that the logical approach?

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      • #4
        >>Is he just being lazy or is that the logical approach?<<

        No, that is the correct approach so your attorney's advice sounds appropriate to this HR person as applied to the Federal court system. That may not apply if OK has their own state version of the ADEA.

        The EEOC must first investigate and issue you a "right to sue" letter before your attorney can proceed in Federal court. Of course they will issue a right to sue letter in most every case, but it is a required process...think of it as having to pass "go" before you can collect the $200. From what I've read, it is very rare that the EEOC decides to pursue a case on its own, but they must first have an opportunity to investigate before they issue the right to sue letter. Be prepared to wait for several months.
        Last edited by The Masked Poster; 12-29-2008, 12:21 PM. Reason: added some wording
        The only thing spammers are good for is target practice.
        No trees were destroyed in the sending of this message, but a bunch of electrons and phosphors have been a tad inconvenienced.

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        • #5
          The ADEA does contain some caveats for certain executive positions:
          "Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to prohibit compulsory retirement of any employee who has attained 65 years of age and who, for the 2-year period immediately before retirement, is employed in a bona fide executive or a high policymaking position, if such employee is entitled to an immediate nonforfeitable annual retirement benefit from a pension, profit-sharing, savings, or deferred compensation plan, or any combination of such plans, of the employer of such employee, which equals, in the aggregate, at least $44,000." from http://www.eeoc.gov/policy/adea.html

          But it doesn't sound like the company is meeting that criteria. I would definitely file a claim with the EEOC.

          One other question....did you sign any document, possibly called a waiver or release of claims, for any type of bonus/severance payment? If so, while you can't really waive your rights to an EEOC claim/investigation, you might have a hard time finding an attorney to take your case if you want to take the ex-employer to court. Because even though the release/waiver might not be enforceable, it's main goal is to stop claims. And usually it works very well.

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          • #6
            Yes, I signed a waiver, but my attorney reviewed it and it does not wave ADEA claims. Rather, it simply says I can't sue for issues related to my employment. However, my employer has violated the agreement I signed at least 3 times (costing me about $12 K so far in lost benefits), so I don't think it will be hard to argue that the agreement isn't valid, anyway. But, as you say, it's irrelevant for an age discrimination claim because they need very specific wording which isn't there (I think they outsmarted themselves. In order to waive an age claim, you need to be made aware of your rights under ADEA and the employer doesn't want to give terminated employees any ideas, so they don't bring it up and hope the employee doesn't know the law).

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