In 2009, two employees from the English as a Second Language Program at Ohio State University filed a lawsuit against their employer in federal court, in which they claimed that they had been forced to undergo disparagement from the new program director because of their age, while younger and less experienced people were promoted. Eventually, nearly four years after filing the lawsuit, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) concluded its investigation into the matter, finding that the plaintiffs had been discriminated against because of their age, a blatant violation of the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), which protects employees who are over the age of 40 years old. Soon after, the university agreed to settle the suit by rehiring both wronged employees, while also compensating them with back pay and retroactive benefits totaling more than $200,000, and agreeing to pay more than $300,000 in attorneys’ fees.
Although the women in this case were ultimately victorious, these types of claims do tend to be difficult to pursue, making it especially important for those who are being discriminated against at work because of their age to speak with an experienced employment discrimination attorney who can help them file and resolve their claims.
Age Discrimination Lawsuit
In their complaint, the Ohio State University employee plaintiffs claimed that despite consistently receiving first-rate performance reviews, they were regularly overlooked when it came to promotions and assignments in favor of their younger colleagues. The complaint also alleged that older teachers also lost their offices and were re-assigned to more cramped spaces where they were forced to share an insufficient number of computers, while their younger counterparts were permitted to retain their own private offices and computers. The director of the ESP program and his successor continued these discriminatory policies and even went so far as to deride the veteran teachers for their age, referring to them as “dead wood” and “millstones.”
Eventually, more than 20 veteran staff members were reclassified at lower salaries, threatened with termination, or were squeezed out in favor of younger applicants. Despite lodging a formal complaint with the university, no action was taken by the school and the claimants eventually left their jobs voluntarily out of fear of termination and the untimely loss of their benefits.
Fortunately, after nearly four years of investigation, the EEOC issued a ruling in the claimants’ favor, after which, the university quickly settled the suit.
In addition to agreeing to compensate the claimants with back pay, benefits, and attorneys’ fees, Ohio State also agreed to:
- Train human resources employees to recognize, prevent, and investigate employment discrimination claims;
- Establish a second-look process to review the results of age discrimination investigations; and
- Include age as a prohibited form of discrimination on its website.
The EEOC also awarded prospective injunctive relief to the plaintiffs, which prevents the school from instituting such illegal policies in the future.
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For help asserting your own rights to be free of discrimination in the workplace, please contact one of the dedicated employment discrimination attorneys at Marshall & Forman, LLC by calling (614) 463-9790 or by sending us a message at firstname.lastname@example.org.