Department Store Fired 61-Year-Old Area Sales Manager Because of Her Age, Federal Agency Charged
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Dillard’s, Inc., a major department store chain, will pay $50,000 and furnish other relief to settle an age discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today. The EEOC had charged in its lawsuit that Dillard’s discriminated against a manager when it discharged her because of her age, 61.
According to the EEOC’s complaint, Dillard’s terminated Virginia Keene from her position as an area sales manager at the Cary, N.C., store in November 2008 and replaced her with a 24-year-old employee who only had four months of experience as an area sales manager. Keene, on the other hand, had successfully worked as an area sales manager for over four years. At the time of her termination, Keene ranked second out of six area sales managers at the Cary store in terms of sales, the EEOC said.
Keene had also received positive reviews in her two most recent performance appraisals and had twice been recommended for promotion. Throughout the course of her employment with Dillard’s, Keene’s managers made repeated references to her age, telling her she was “too old” for a sales job and that it might be time for her to “let the younger [managers] take over.”
Such alleged conduct violates the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), which prohibits employers from discharging individuals because of their age. The EEOC filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina, Western Division (EEOC v. Dillard’s, Inc., Civil Action No. 5:10-CV-00398), after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement out of court.
“Older workers have experience and skills that are too often overlooked,” said Lynette A. Barnes, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Charlotte District Office. “It is illegal to make employment decisions based on age. The EEOC is committed to using all available means, including litigation, to combat age discrimination.”
According to company information, Little Rock, Ark.-based Dillard’s has 330 stores in 29 states.
The EEOC enforces the nation’s laws prohibiting discrimination in employment. More information about the EEOC is available on its website at www.eeoc.gov.