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At Jones Beach, fashion foul or was it age discrimination?

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Firing,Human Resources

When Long Island’s Jones Beach re­­quired its lifeguards to wear Speedo swimsuits for an annual swimming test in 2007, it chafed 61-year-old Roy Lester in more ways than one.

Recognizing that his “Baywatch” days were well behind him, Lester re­­fused to don the skimpy trunks for his test. He commented, “There should be a law prohibiting anyone over the age of 50 from wearing a Speedo.”

The beach patrol fired Lester for in­­subordination. In 2009, Lester—who’s also a lawyer—sued the state agency that runs Jones Beach, saying the Speedo requirement was an attempt to get rid of older lifeguards. His original lawsuit was dismissed, but now an appeals court has reinstated it.

Lester must prove to a Nassau County court that he was fired be­­cause of his age. The state may have to show it required the tight trunks out of business necessity. That may be a stretch.

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