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Press Release 08-30-2011

EEOC Sues American Samoa Government for Discrimination Against Its Older Workers

Department Head Reassigned Older Workers Into Undesirable Positions To Free Slots for Young People, Federal Agency Charges

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa—In its first lawsuit filed against the government of American Samoa, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) today announced that it filed a lawsuit charging that the government discriminated against a class of older workers due to their age.

According to the EEOC, the American Samoa government initiated a campaign in the U.S. territory to remove older employees from the government work force in order to open up positions for younger people who are seeking employment. The EEOC alleges specifically that the director of human resources executed plans in 2009 to remove older staff by involuntarily reassigning employees over the age of 50 into undesirable positions. The EEOC asserts that the reassignments were designed to pressure older workers to retire or resign.

Age discrimination violates the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA). The EEOC filed its lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the District of Hawaii (EEOC v. American Samoa Government, Department of Human Resources, Case No. CV11-00525-JMS-RLP), after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The EEOC seeks relief on behalf of a class of workers over the age of 40 who may have been reassigned, subjected to different terms and conditions of employment and/or constructively discharged due to their age.

"Age discrimination is on the rise and the EEOC stands vigilant to protect all workers," said Anna Park, regional attorney for the EEOC's Los Angeles District Office, which has jurisdiction over the U.S. Territory of American Samoa. "The governments of U.S. territories should act as model employers and prevent civil rights violations."

Olophius Perry, district director for the EEOC's Los Angeles District Office, added, "Workers over 40 are protected against age discrimination under federal law. Pressuring older employees into leaving the work force is a form of age discrimination that is not only illegal, but also undermines the value of those who often have a wealth of experience."

The EEOC is the federal agency that enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on the agency's web site at