Age Discrimination Case Revived

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit has recently revived a man’s claim of age discrimination against the Department of Defense. In Bartlett v. Gates, a 58-year-old man – Barry Bartlett – was denied promotion to a higher level within the Defense Contracts Management Agency (DCMA) despite his 34 years of experience.

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) prohibits age discrimination against individuals over the age of 40. If you are older than 40, your employer may not make adverse employment decisions against you on the basis of your age and may not harass you because of your age.

Here, the official in charge of promotions selected a 39-year-old woman. While Mr. Bartlett had completed graduate work in business administration, accounting, and law, the woman had no college degree. Bartlett had also worked at the current branch for 24 years, whereas the woman had only worked 8 years at a different location.

Additionally, the supervisor had made comments suggesting Bartlett retire, and said she “was wondering if you were going antiquing or traveling or something like that because that’s what you supposedly do.”

The 6th Circuit determined that summary judgment against Bartlett was improper because he was able to show direct evidence of discrimination in the form of ageist remarks. The court noted that, “discriminatory remarks by decision-maker and other persons exerting a meaningful role in the decision-making process constitute direct evidence of discrimination.”

Further, Bartlett was able to show that the DCMA’s stated reason for its decision was pretext. The DCMA claimed the woman hired was “the best candidate, a strong communicator and very experienced.” Bartlett sufficiently rebutted these claims by establishing that his communications skills were on par with, if not better than, the woman hired. He was also able by show that he had substantially more experience and familiarity in the area of contract negotiations, which was a critical function of the position. As such, the lower court’s granting of summary judgment was overturned and he was able to proceed with his claim.

If you or someone you know has been victimized by age discrimination, don’t wait. The ADEA has a very short time to file claims. Please contact the lawyers at Buckley Bala Wilson Mew LLP to find out how we can help.