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PRESS RELEASE
9-28-10

Asian World of Martial Arts Sued for Age Bias

EEOC Says Employer Fired Worker Because of Age

PHILADELPHIA – Asian World of Martial Arts, Inc., a leading mail and retail distributor of martial arts supplies, violated federal law when it discriminated against an employee and fired him because of his age, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed today.

According to EEOC’s suit (Civil Action No 10-5062, filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania) Asian World of Martial Arts, Inc. fired Morris Pashko because of his age, 74. Unbeknownst to Pashko, the company president, Georgette Ciukurescu, implemented a mandatory retirement policy forcing all employees over age 67 to be terminated. Pashko, the company’s controller, who had been employed by the company over 20 years, had an exemplary record. He was informed of his termination on November 14, 2007, while he was on leave and recuperating in the hospital from surgery. Despite his pleas to be given additional time, Ciukurescu told Pashko that he should obtain health insurance by December 1, 2007, the effective date of his termination. The EEOC alleges that in addition to Pashko, Asian World also fired two staff employees under the auspices of its newly created, unlawful mandatory retirement policy.

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) protects individuals who are 40 years of age or older from employment discrimination based on age. That protection includes, with narrow exceptions not applicable here, prohibiting mandatory retirement based on age. The EEOC filed suit after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement. The complaint seeks monetary and injunctive relief, including back wages, liquidated damages and changes in employment policies to eliminate future age-based discrimination, training and policy revisions eliminating the mandatory retirement policy.

“The ADEA does not permit employers to impose mandatory retirement on older employees except in certain situations not relevant to this case, still less to fire them in furtherance of such a policy,” said EEOC Philadelphia Regional Attorney Debra S. Lawrence. “Mr. Pashko had been effectively performing his job for over 20 years. Nevertheless, this company succumbed to age-related myths, fears and stereotypes which resulted in his unlawful termination.”

During fiscal year 2009, there were 22,778 age discrimination charges filed with the EEOC.

The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the Commission is available at its web site at www.eeoc.gov.