Lifeguard Fired at Age 71 Settles Age-Discrimination Lawsuit
Federal law makes it illegal to treat workers over 40 differently than workers under 40 when it comes to any terms or conditions of employment. This was illustrated recently in the unusual case of a 71-year-old lifeguard who was fired after failing a swimming test. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) sued the employer, claiming the employer suspended the lifeguard when he failed the test and then fired him before he had a chance to take a retest, while it allowed younger workers who failed the same test to keep their jobs. The lawsuit recently settled, with the employer paying the lifeguard $65,000.
The lifeguard, who worked for the Nassau County Department of Parks, Recreation and Museums, had 50 years of experience. He was initially suspended without pay when he failed the swimming test. He then passed the first of two segments of the retest, but was injured before he could complete the second part. The County said he had a week to take the second segment, but then it fired him two days later, before he had completed the retest. According to the EEOC, younger lifeguards who failed the test were not suspended or fired, and some were allowed to continue working pending a successful retest.
The $65,000 that Nassau County paid to the lifeguard was for back pay. To settle the lawsuit, the County also agreed to revise its non-discrimination policy, to report to a federal agency, and to institute anti-discrimination training. The three-year consent decree enjoins the County from any further age discrimination and any retaliation against employees for participating in an EEOC investigation.
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Tags: Preventing Discrimination and Harassment, Age and Sex Discrimination