The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission



Charity Fired Seniors Advocate for New Hire Half His Age, Federal Agency Charged

SAN FRANCISCO — Catholic Charities, one of the largest non-profit providers of social services in the San Francisco Bay Area, has agreed to pay $30,000 and other relief to settle an age discrimination lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.

The EEOC’s suit had charged that Catholic Charities fired a highly qualified 71-year-old advocate of the aged, Gilbert Brigham, and replaced him with a less qualified woman half his age. Brigham holds a master’s degree in public administration, and previously worked as a case manager at the Goldman Institute on Aging and as a commissioner on San Francisco’s Commission on Aging.

Such alleged conduct violates the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA). The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California (Case No. C-08-4374 EMC) after a neutral investigation conducted by EEOC investigator Thomas Magee and after first attempting to reach voluntary settlement.

In addition to agreeing to pay Brigham $30,000 in back pay and interest, Catholic Charities agreed to provide training to its work force on age discrimination prohibitions and periodic reports to the EEOC on work force demographics in terminations and layoffs. The charity also agreed to report to the EEOC on any complaints of age discrimination.

"Catholic Charities is one of the largest non-profit providers of social services in the San Francisco Bay Area, but no employer, no matter how worthy its mission, gets a free ride on dis­crim­ination,” said EEOC San Francisco Regional Attorney William R. Tamayo. “In this case, Mr. Brigham was highly qualified and was replaced by an unquestionably less-qualified younger woman. Catholic Charities’ explanations for its actions just did not withstand scrutiny.”

EEOC San Francisco District Director Michael Baldonado added, “Mr. Brigham has dedicated a significant portion of his career to advocating for the aged. It is ironic that he lost his job on account of his age. He, like many older workers, continues to be a vibrant force in the workplace. With the protection of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, he will be able to continue contributing to our community for as long as he wishes.”

Age discrimination represents the fastest-growing type of charges filings with the EEOC. During Fiscal Year 2008, the EEOC received a record 24,582 age discrimination charge filings, a 29 percent increase from the prior year and a 65 percent jump from the number of filings in FY 2005 (14,893).

According to its web site,, Catholic Charities CYO serves San Francisco, Marin and San Mateo Counties and “is one of the largest non-profit providers of social services in the [San Francisco] Bay Area.” While Catholic Charities is an agency of the San Francisco Archdiocese, it operates as an “independent organization and [does] not contribute funds to the church in any way.”

The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at

This page was last modified on June 18, 2009.

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