Age Discrimination Claim Arises After Older Worker Is Fired And Subjected To Ageist Jokes

A recent opinion by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals found that a 59-year-old man who was fired by a car dealership and replaced by a younger man could maintain a claim for age discrimination. The worker presented evidence that he was subjected to ageist jokes by the company’s president and was replaced by a man more than 20 years younger.

In O’Reilly v. Marina Dodge, Inc., an auto dealership asserted that it fired the older employee, Terrence O’Reilly, because he was “disorganized and lackadaisical in his performance, was resistant to new initiatives, and had a poor attitude.” While these stated reasons may be legitimate, if the person alleging discrimination can show that those reasons are really “pretext” or excuses for taking unlawful discriminatory actions, he or she may be able to maintain a lawsuit.

Here O’Reilly faced numerous ageist comments from the company president and other employees such as whether he remembered his customer’s name or his way home. The court found that evidence of the jokes, along with glowing letters of recommendation, positive performance evaluations and cash bonuses were sufficient to create a question for the jury whether he had been subject to age discrimination.

The court also found that a reasonable jury could find that the auto dealership was relying on stereotypes of older people when they teased O’Reilly and that his resistance to “new initiatives” was a cover for the company’s desire to hire a younger employee based on its “unfounded assumption that a younger employee would better implement ‘new initiatives’ than an older employee.”

As the workforce continues to age, more and more older workers remain on the payroll making valuable contributions. Sometimes rather than receiving the commendations they deserve, older workers are subjected to discrimination and harassment.

If you believe you have been discriminated against at work due to your age, contact the experienced Atlanta age discrimination lawyers at Buckley Bala Wilson Mew LLP. Our Georgia employment law firm has years of experience fighting against all types of work place discrimination.