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The EEOC has filed a class-action lawsuit against Cavalier Telephone on behalf of a group of account executives and job applicants from Pennsylvania and other Mid-Atlantic states, charging that the company refuses to hire older workers and fired two employees in retaliation after they objected to the alleged discrimination.

Benjamin Heaney and Leonard Pearson—both former account executives at Cavalier, which provides phone and Internet services in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh—are the lead plaintiffs in the EEOC lawsuit, along with several applicants over age 40 who were denied positions with the company.

In 2003, Heaney complained to management about one recruiter who refused to let him hire employees over age 40. Instead, Heaney claimed, the recruiter only wanted employees who were “young and fit” to be part of his “youth movement.”

During the same period, the company allegedly offered its employees a $500 bonus for referral of a “friend’s younger brother and sister.” After Heaney complained to management, he was demoted and eventually fired.

The EEOC concluded the demotion and firing were in retaliation for his complaints.

Pearson says he was also demoted after he complained. He eventually resigned from the company.

The lawsuit seeks back pay and compensatory and punitive damages.

Note: References to age in job advertisements (other than those required by legitimate business necessities) generally violate the Age Discrimination in Employment Act. Also, seeking “fit” individuals may violate the ADA.

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