Telecom giant AT&T just settled an age discrimination lawsuit. The Company was charged with discriminating against over 50,000 retired AT&T workers who had retired under several retirement and severance programs because it refused to rehire them. The settlement provides for a three year consent decree and now enables former employees to apply for re-employment.
The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (“ADEA“) makes it illegal for employers to discriminate against employees and job applicants over 40 years of age because of their age regarding any term or condition of employment including hiring, firing, layoff, promotion, compensation, benefit, and training. The federal law also makes it illegal to retaliate against an individual for complaining about age discrimination or for filing charges, testifying or participating in such a investigation, proceeding or litigation. Our attorneys have represented many clients who were victims of age discrimination and suffered from loss of work and job opportunities. If you believe you have been discriminated against because of your age, our lawyers can help protect your rights in the workplace.
The EEOC had filed the age discrimination lawsuit against AT&T and its subsidiaries in 2009 alleging that it had discriminated against a class of retired workers by not allowing them to be reemployed just because they retired under early retirement plans. The government agency had charged that this resulted in violating the anti-discrimination laws because a disproportionate number of older workers ended up not having the same
opportunity to apply for re-employment.
The lawsuit was filed in the Southern District of New York on behalf of John Yates, who was 57 years old at the time, and other retired workers. The class of workers all participated in retirement plans such as the Voluntary Retirement Incentive Program, the Enhanced Pension and Retirement Program and were denied reemployment.
According to the three year settlement decree, the Company will have to stop any prohibitions it has against rehiring workers who retired under such retirement programs. The decree also requires the telecommunication organization to update its databases so that former workers are not “blocked” from being rehired and certify every year in writing that it is following the terms of the decree. The decree states that it will “not maintain any policy prohibiting the rehiring of employees who [resigned] under the relevant retirement programs” and there will be no retaliation against anyone involved in the litigation. Anna M. Pohl, a trial attorney at the EEOC’s New York district office, stated that “many former employees who took an early retirement package years ago still need work, and will now have an equal opportunity to apply for new jobs [with their former employer].”
The Company’s discriminatory policy had the effect of putting over 50,000 workers out on the street relying on their savings and unemployment insurance to get by. Age discrimination not only affects older individuals but it can also consequentially impact our society and economy. Many companies lay off their older senior people and hire younger workers who they pay less. Many older workers have trouble finding similar jobs and end up taking jobs with substantially less pay and lower positions. With longer life spans, increased health care costs, and depleted savings, most people cannot afford to retire. When a qualified unemployed person is discriminated based on his or her age, he or she then relies on unemployment insurance and government assistance which then affects our economy.
If you have been negatively impacted because of your age, our experienced Employment Discrimination Attorneys at Villanueva & Sanchala at (800) 893-9645 can help you.
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AT&T Settles EEOC Age Discrimination Lawsuit, EEOC Press Release