Property Manager Fired Because of Her Age, Federal Agency Charged
DALLAS – An Irving, Texas developer of housing facilities has agreed to pay $50,000 and furnish other relief to settle an age discrimination and retaliation lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.
The EEOC had charged that Collegiate Development Services’ director of market research expressed to the assistant property manager that property manager Velda (“Charlie”) Poole, 62 years of age, was too old to connect with the college-age residents. When Poole learned of the age-based comment and informed higher management, she was fired within weeks. The assistant manager, Sarah Jones, objected to the firing of Poole only to be terminated herself in retaliation, the EEOC said.
Discriminating against an individual because of his or her age violates the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA). The EEOC filed suit lawsuit (Civil Action No. 1-10-cv-232-J) in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, Amarillo Division after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.
“Discriminatory assumptions about age in today’s workplaces only serve to limit an employer’s ultimate breadth of business potential,” said Robert Canino, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Dallas Office. “Punishing people for standing up to prejudice and thus depriving them of their earnings, despite demonstrated performance, takes unlawful conduct from bad to worse.”
A consent decree settling the suit was signed by U.S. District Court Judge Mary Lou Robinson on August 2, 2011. In it, the company is to pay $50,000 to the victims and to provide training to managers and supervisors on equal employment opportunity (EEO) policies and procedures, including on age discrimination and retaliation. The company is also required to establish and enforce a written policy and procedure that will ensure protections and fair treatment for employees.
EEOC Senior Trial Attorney William C. Backhaus said, “Employers must avoid the stereotyping of managers as well as non-management employees with preconceived notions about age. This employer wrongly assumed that Ms. Poole’s age interfered with her ability to connect with younger student residents. To the contrary, our information showed that the students greatly appreciated Ms. Poole.”
The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.