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Press Release 02-28-2014

EEOC Sues Memphis Light, Gas & Water for Age Discrimination

Municipal Utility Provider Refused to Promote Employee Because of Age, Federal Agency Charges

MEMPHIS, Tenn. - Memphis Light, Gas and Water (MLGW), a division of the City of Memphis, violated federal law when it refused to promote an employee because of his age, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed today. 

The EEOC's suit alleges that MLGW refused to promote Carlos Phifer to the position of computer operations specialist I because of his age, then 57.  According to the EEOC's suit, Phifer applied for the position and was the most qualified applicant.  Phifer was interviewed for the position, but MLGW ultimately awarded the position to a younger, less qualified applicant. 

Such alleged conduct violates the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA).  The EEOC filed suit (Civil Action No. 2:14-cv-02143) in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee, Western Division after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement through the conciliation process.  The EEOC's suit seeks monetary relief in the form of back pay and liquidated damages, instatement, and an injunction against future discrimination.

"Age discrimination is of great concern to the EEOC because older workers continue to face negative stereotypes in the workplace," said Katharine W. Kores, district director of the EEOC's Memphis District Office, which has jurisdiction over Arkansas, Tennessee, and portions of Mississippi.  "Employers cannot make decisions based on discriminatory stereotypes and inaccurate assumptions based on age."

MLGW has approximately 2,500 employees.  It is the nation's largest three-service municipal utility, serving more than 420,000 customers in Shelby County, Tenn.

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