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Sales Manager Made Age-Biased Comments and Fired Sales Representative Because of Age, Federal Agency Charged

PHILADELPHIA — A Tullytown, Pa., distributor of home heating oil has agreed to pay $80,000 and provide significant equitable relief to settle an age discrimination lawsuit, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced today. The EEOC charged in its lawsuit that Meenan Oil Company unlawfully fired sales representative Louis Ceccoli of Langhorne, Pa., because of his age, 71.

According to the allegations in the EEOC’s lawsuit, Meenan’s sales manager made several derogatory comments demonstrating a bias against older workers, including stating that he would like to “remove all the older representatives and replace them with younger employees,” repeatedly asking Ceccoli about his retirement plans and commenting that he would retire if he were “as old as” Ceccoli. The EEOC said the sales manager also took sales leads and sales territory from Ceccoli. After the discharge, Meenan Oil replaced Ceccoli with a substantially younger employee.

It is a violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) to treat an employee who is 40 or older less favorably than younger individuals or to terminate him based on age. The EEOC filed suit (Civil Action No. 08-cv-5146, in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania) after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement through its conciliation process.

In addition to the $80,000 in monetary relief for Ceccoli, the three-year consent decree settling the suit requires Meenan to provide anti-discrimination training to all supervisory and management personnel, to require supervisors and managers to oversee their work areas in compliance with company policies against discrimination and retaliation, and to post a notice about the resolution of the lawsuit. Meenan did not admit liability in the consent decree, which is pending judicial approval.

“More than 40 years after the passage of the ADEA, age discrimination charges represent one of the fastest-growing types of complaints filed with the EEOC nationally,” said District Director Marie M. Tomasso of the EEOC’s Philadelphia District Office. “The EEOC will take action if older employees are illegally forced out of a job based on age.”

Acting Regional Attorney Debra Lawrence added, “We appreciate Meenan’s willingness to work with the EEOC to resolve this matter and to undertake remedial measures designed to ensure that employees are not subjected to wrongful discrimination in the future.”

During Fiscal Year 2008, age discrimination charges surged to a record high 24,582 – an increase of 29 percent from the prior fiscal year.

The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at