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Press Release 06-14-2021

Jury in EEOC Suit Finds that RockAuto Discriminated Against Applicant Because of His Age

Madison Store Used Older Graduation Date to Bar Man From Hire, Federal Agency Charged

MADISON, Wis. – A jury has determined that RockAuto, a Madison, Wis.-headquartered internet-based auto parts seller, violated federal law when it failed to hire a qualified job applicant because of his age, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced today.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, the applicant, Glenn McKewen, applied for a position as a supply chain manager at the company’s Madison headquarters in 2016. McKewen had years of relevant experience as well as relevant bachelor’s and master’s degrees. RockAuto, after receiving McKewen’s application, emailed him to ask in what year he received his undergraduate degree. When McKewen revealed a graduation year more than 20 years prior to his application, RockAuto rejected him the next day. RockAuto, however, passed other, significantly younger applicants who lacked McKewen’s experience and credentials through its interview and hiring process, the EEOC charged.

Such alleged conduct violates the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA). The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

After a two-day trial, the jury found in favor of the EEOC. Damages for McKewen are to be determined by the court at a later date.

“The law forbids employers from denying a job to an applicant because of his age,” said Gregory Gochanour, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Chicago District. “If RockAuto had given McKewen’s application fair consideration, and had not rejected him because of his age, he very likely would have been hired. The jury sent a strong message to RockAuto and other employers that they may not use age as a factor when deciding whom to hire, and that if they do, they put them-selves in legal jeopardy.”

The case was tried for the EEOC by Leslie Carter and Elizabeth Banaszak.

The EEOC’s Chicago District is responsible for investigating charges of employment discrimination, administrative enforcement, and the conduct of agency litigation in Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, North Dakota, and South Dakota, with Area Offices in Milwaukee and Minneapolis.

The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at Stay connected with the latest EEOC news by subscribing to our email updates.