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PRESS RELEASE
9-29-15

Blinded Veterans Association Will Pay over $150,000 to Settle EEOC Age Discrimination Lawsuit

Veterans' Organization Terminated Two Older Employees Because of Age,
Federal Agency Charged

WASHINGTON -- Blinded Veterans Association (BVA), a Washington, D.C.-based non-profit that provides services to blind veterans, will pay $150,123 and furnish significant equitable relief to settle an age discrimination lawsuit, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced today.

According to EEOC's lawsuit, BVA officials repeatedly questioned two longstanding emp­loyees about their retirement plans and later purportedly reclassified their jobs in an effort to fire them and replace them with younger workers. At the time of his termination, Lazaro Martinez was 76 years old and had worked for BVA for 34 years, most recently as the assistant national field service director in BVA's Mather, Calif., office. When Martinez applied for a newly created national field service job, BVA refused to consider him because of his age and selected someone over 40 years younger, EEOC charged.

Suzanne Matthews, then age 70, had worked for BVA for about 15 years when she was ter­minated from her position as an administrative assistant to the national director of field service in Washington, D.C. She reapplied for a newly created position for which she was qualified, but BVA selected a significantly younger and less experienced employee because of Mathews' age, according to the lawsuit.

Such conduct violates the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA). EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. Blinded Veterans Association, Civil Action No. 1:14-cv-02102-RDM) in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, after first attempting to reach a voluntary pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

In addition to the $150,123 in monetary relief to Martinez and Matthews, the three-year consent decree resolving the lawsuit enjoins BVA from discriminating based on age in the future. BVA will provide training on the ADEA's prohibitions against age discrimination to all management and human resources employees. BVA will also report to EEOC about its compliance with the consent decree, including how it handled any internal complaints of age discrimination, and it will post a notice about employees' rights under the ADEA.

"Dedicated, hardworking employees should be valued for their skills and productivity, not targeted for termination based on age," said Washington Field Office Acting Director Mindy Weinstein.

EEOC Philadelphia District Office Regional Attorney Debra M. Lawrence added, "We are pleased that BVA worked with us to craft a settlement that not only provides full monetary relief to Mr. Martinez and Ms. Matthews, but also contains equitable measures designed to protect all BVA employees and applicants from age discrimination going forward."

The legal staff of the Philadelphia District Office of EEOC prosecutes cases in the District of Columbia, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, West Virginia, and in parts of New Jersey, Ohio and Virginia.

EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the Commission is available at its website, www.eeoc.gov.