Beverage Distributor Fired Its Two Oldest Sales Employees on the Basis of Age, Brooklyn Jury Finds
NEW YORK - A nine-member jury sitting in Brooklyn has returned a verdict for the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) on two claims of age discrimination against AZ Metro Distributors, LLC, the federal agency announced today. The jury found that the defendant, a beverage distributor, discharged two sales employees, Archibald Roberts and Cesar Fernandez, on the same day in 2014 because of their ages.
The jury awarded a total of approximately $458,000 in lost wages. The jury further found that AZ Metro acted "willfully" within the meaning of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), which the agency expects will trigger an eventual award of liquidated damages by the court. At trial, the EEOC presented evidence that the company's top sales manager "wanted a younger sales force," along with evidence that the company thereafter hired much younger salespeople. AZ Metro maintained that both employees were not discharged, but had voluntarily resigned. The trial lasted six days, and the jury deliberated for approximately three-and-a-half hours.
"The jury plainly understood that Mr. Roberts and Mr. Fernandez were dedicated employees who lost their jobs for an unfair and illegal reason - their age," said EEOC trial attorney Kirsten Peters, who led the agency's trial team.
EEOC New York District Director Kevin Berry added, "This case shows that judging older workers based on stereotypes about their age instead of their performance violates the ADEA, a statute EEOC will continue to vigorously enforce."
The case (EEOC v. AZ Metro Distributors, LLC, in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, Case No. 15-CV-05370) was tried by Ms. Peters and Supervisory Trial Attorney Justin Mulaire, supported by Paralegal Marcia Gordon.
The EEOC's New York District Office is responsible for processing discrimination charges, administrative enforcement and the conduct of agency litigation in New York, northern New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine.
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.