Managers at the Dillard’s department store in Cary have learned the hard way that forcing out older workers simply because of their age doesn’t pay.
Sales manager Virginia Keene knew the ropes, ranking second out of six area managers in sales. She consistently received positive reviews and was twice recommended for promotion.
But apparently some managers felt she was “too old.” In fact, they told her so to her face, often, with one commenting to her that it was time to “let the younger managers take over.” Despite her sterling record, the company fired the 61-year-old Keene, replacing her with a 24-year-old who had only four months of experience.
Keene filed an age discrimination complaint with the EEOC. The company played hardball with her, refusing to settle the case until the EEOC filed suit on Keene’s behalf. Only then did the retailer buckle.
Under the settlement, Dillard’s will pay Keene $50,000 and train its managers on age discrimination.
Note: Firing older workers, especially those who have successful track records, is usually asking for trouble. Always review a move that replaces a worker over age 40 with someone who is younger.
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- Clarify 'for cause' terminations in severance-pact wording
- Union members can't use 'Public policy' violation as basis for retaliation claim
- Stick to the facts when firing employee who complained of discrimination
- When reorg will cut older worker's position, consider offering reassignment to other jobs
- If you discover wrongdoing after the fact, you can use it in court to justify termination