Court Determines Constant Questions About Retirement Supports Worker’s Age Discrimination Claim In Franks v. Village of Bolivar

Recently a court in Ohio determined that if your boss repeatedly asks you questions such as “when are you going to retire?” or urges you to retire, these actions may support a claim under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA). The ADEA is a federal law that prohibits discrimination against individuals over the age of 40. In Franks v. Village of Bolivar, the Northern District of Ohio ruled that a mayor’s repeated and relentless urging of a city worker to retire supported a claim of age discrimination.

If you believe you have been subjected to age discrimination at work or have questions concerning your employer’s conduct, an experienced Atlanta employment discrimination lawyer can provide you crucial advice about your potential claim and help you determine your next steps.

In Franks, a man – Gary Franks – was employed as the water and street superintendent for 33 years. As a city employee he was appointed for yearly terms, beginning and ending at the end of each calendar year. In 2011 he was not reappointed. In a complaint for age discrimination, Franks alleged that he was terminated because he was an older employee at the high end of the pay scale with benefits and payments due. He also claimed that the mayor “relentlessly badgered” him to retire. Other statements showing age bias include telling him that “he could go work on a farm” and that she would “throw a big party if he would leave his job.”

The court determined that these facts alone were enough to show direct evidence of age discrimination. He did not need to establish that other similarly situated employees were treated better. The court explained that where an employee alleges direct evidence – such as discriminatory statements – these alone may be enough to bring a lawsuit. The “McDonnell Douglas” test involving evidence that an older employee was replaced by a younger one or better treatment of a similarly situated worker is not necessary is not necessary at the pleading stage where direct evidence of discrimination is alleged.

The court also noted that while the terms “retire” and “age” are not synonyms, where asking an employee over and over when they are going to retire can suggest an age-related motivation if the worker is terminated.

Although employers should value older workers and the experience they bring to the workforce, as the American work force ages, violations of the ADEA are increasing.

For more information or if you believe you have been subjected to employment discrimination, contact the knowledgeable Atlanta age discrimination lawyers at Buckley Bala Wilson Mew LLP for a confidential case evaluation.