Jewelry Retailer Told Applicant She Was Too Old, Federal Agency Charges
KETCHIKAN, Alaska - SAI Investments LLC, a jewelry retailer which does business as Miner's Gems, violated federal law when it refused to hire a 57-year old applicant with experience as a sales associate at one of its Alaska stores but chose instead to hire less experienced applicants who were younger, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit announced today.
According to EEOC's suit, two different recruiters who worked for SAI made negative remarks about Lori Burke's age during separate interviews in March 2018, and told her that SAI typically hired applicants in their twenties. Despite her extensive sales experience, the EEOC found that Burke was eliminated from further consideration and SAI instead hired at least 20 applicants who were significantly younger than her with demonstrably less relevant work experience.
Such alleged actions violate the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA). After first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through conciliation, the EEOC filed the lawsuit (EEOC v. SAI Investments LLC d/b/a "Miner's Gems," Civil No. 5:19-cv-00005-SLG) in U.S. District Court for the District of Alaska in Ketchikan, and seeks monetary damages on behalf of Burke, training on anti-discrimination laws, posting of anti-discrimination notices at the worksite, and other injunctive relief.
"An employer cannot make hiring decisions based on an applicant's age and not expect the EEOC to investigate," said Nancy Sienko, director of the EEOC's Seattle Field Office. "The EEOC will vigorously investigate cases where an employer ignores objective work experience in favor of stereotypes."
EEOC Supervisory Trial Attorney John Stanley said, "The ADEA was enacted as a promise to the American public that employers will judge them by their qualifications and work experience, and not by things they cannot change, like the year they were born. The EEOC will honor that promise by investigating and litigating against employers who violate the law."
SAI Investments LLC is owned by Gary and Meeta Jethani and is headquartered in Carlsbad, Calif. The company employed about 70 employees at sales locations in Alaska and the Virgin Islands during the relevant time period.
The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at www.eeoc.gov. Stay connected with the latest EEOC news by subscribing to our email updates.