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EEOC Sues RockAuto For Age Discrimination

Madison Auto Parts Seller Refused to Hire Applicant Because of His Age, Federal Agency Charges

MADISON, Wis. - RockAuto, LLC, a Madison, Wis.-headquartered internet-based auto parts seller, violated federal law when it refused to hire a job applicant because of his age, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed yesterday.

According to the EEOC's lawsuit, Glenn McKewen, who was 64 years old at the time, applied for a supply chain manager position RockAuto advertised online. RockAuto, who asks applicants to disclose their college graduation years, refused to hire McKewen, despite his 15 years of relevant experience. Instead, it hired a 32-year-old candidate and a 22-year-old candidate around the same time. One interviewer praised the 20-something applicant for being "young in her career," which would allegedly allow her to adapt to RockAuto's "fast pace."

Such alleged conduct violates the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA). The EEOC sued in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin (EEOC v. RockAuto, LLC, Civil Action No. 3:18-cv-00797) after first trying to settle through its conciliation process. The lawsuit asks the court to order RockAuto to hire McKewen or provide front pay if it cannot hire him, and provide back pay as well as liquidated damages. The lawsuit also seeks a permanent injunction prohibiting RockAuto from discriminating against future candidates based on their age.

"The ADEA clearly prohibits refusing to hire a qualified candidate because of age-related stereotypes," said Gregory Gochanour, regional attorney for the EEOC's Chicago District. "The EEOC will prove in court that RockAuto used its hiring process to screen out older candidates while granting exceptions and providing effective preferences to younger candidates."

Julianne Bowman, district director of the EEOC's Chicago District, said, "The ADEA is there because workers over 40 can contribute to our national economy and do so every day. This law prohibits employers from depriving a candidate of an equal opportunity to contribute because of their age, and the EEOC will keep diligently enforcing it."

The EEOC's Chicago District is responsible for investigating charges of employment discrimination, administrative enforcement, and the conduct of agency litigation in Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, North Dakota and South Dakota, with Area Offices in Milwaukee and Minneapolis.

The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at Stay connected with the latest EEOC news by subscribing to our email updates.