Company Fired Employee on His 70th Birthday Under Illegal Mandatory Retirement Policy, Federal Agency Charged
HOUSTON -- A Houston manufacturer will pay $60,000 and provide other relief to settle an age discrimination lawsuit brought by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.
According to the EEOC’s suit, filed in November 2010, Metallic Products Corp. had an unlawful mandatory retirement policy which required employees to retire upon reaching age 70. Before he turned 70, company officials advised Jeronimo Vidals that he would be required to retire upon reaching 70 years of age. Then, on his 70th birthday, he was fired from the company pursuant to its unlawful mandatory retirement policy.
“With rare exception, mandatory retirement policies violate the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), which prohibits forcing an employee to retire at any particular age,” said R.J. Ruff, Jr., district director of the EEOC’s Houston District Office.
A four-year consent decree settling the suit was signed today by Judge Sim Lake. In addition to the monetary payment to Vidals, it requires Metallic Products to rescind the unlawful policy and notify all current employees and former employees who may have been affected by the policy about this settlement. The company must rewrite all company policies and employee manuals and eliminate any mention, reference or description of the former mandatory retirement policy. Additionally, the company must provide annual ADEA and anti-discrimination training to its board of directors as well as all management and other personnel making employment decisions.
“Qualified and productive employees cannot be fired based on the employer’s belief that the employee is too old to continue working or that at a specific age, all employees are expendable,” said Jim Sacher, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Houston District Office. “That type of biased decision making is exactly why the ADEA was enacted.”
Kathy D. Boutchee, the senior trial attorney in charge of the case, added, “Mr. Vidals was, and continues to be, able to perform in the workplace. Employers cannot let their pre-conceived notions about when an employee should stop working color their employment decisions. Older workers can continue to make vital contributions far beyond the period when others think they should retire.”
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Additional information about the EEOC is available on the agency’s website at www.eeoc.gov.