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Employment Law Blog
James Tarquin, P.A
As part of our commitment to assist and educate employees in fighting back against the abusive employment practices of employers, we offer a broad range of information about employment law issues in our employment blog.

Are Employment Decisions Based On Age Stereotypes Unlawful Age Discrimination?

Age discrimination claim in the court.

For more than twenty years, our Marion County, Florida age discrimination attorneys have litigated age discrimination cases in Florida courts. Through their extensive experience representing age discrimination victims, our Ocala, Florida age discrimination lawyers know that employers continue to make employment decisions based on age stereotypes. For example, employers often justify employment decisions with respect to older workers by claiming that older employees do not have long term potential, are not as productive as they used to be, are too set in their ways, have a low motivation to change, or are lacking in imagination. In this article, our Marion County, Florida age discrimination attorneys explain how the alleged facts in an age discrimination lawsuit recently settled by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) show that federal employment discrimination law prohibits employers from making employment decisions on the basis of age stereotypes.

Age Discrimination Lawsuit

On July 13, 2021, the EEOC issued a press release announcing that it has entered into a Consent Decree resolving an age discrimination lawsuit against White River Health System, Inc. (White River). On February 7, 2020, the EEOC filed the age discrimination case, U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. White River Health System, Inc., Case No. 3:20-cv-00049, in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas. In the Consent Decree, which was executed by U.S. District Court Judge D.P. Marshall on July 12, 2021, White River agreed to pay $52,500 to resolve the age discrimination lawsuit.

Rights Of Older Employees

The EEOC brought the age discrimination lawsuit pursuant to the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) on behalf of three former employees of White River, Julie Milburn, Donna Boyd (Boyd), and James Kipfer (Kipfer). Under the ADEA, it is an unlawful discriminatory employment practice for employers to discriminate against employees on the basis of age. The ADEA protects employees from age discrimination with respect to all aspects of employment, including hiring, pay, training, demotion, promotion, job duties, discipline, and discharge. As the U.S. Supreme Court observed in Hazen Paper v. Biggins, 507 U.S. 604 (1993), “Congress’ promulgation of the ADEA was prompted by its concern that older workers were being deprived of employment on the basis of inaccurate and stigmatizing stereotypes.” A common inaccurate and stigmatizing stereotype which “is the very essence of age discrimination,” the Biggins Court explained, is “for an older worker to be fired because the employer believes that productivity and competence decline with age.”

Workers Allege Fired Because Of Age

White River operates eight Senior Life Centers in Arkansas. The EEOC’s age discrimination lawsuit involves an insurance policy maintained by White River which was used by White River to justify terminating the employment of Milburn, Boyd, and Kipfer.

Milburn worked for White River as the director of the Salem Senior Life Center in Salem, Arkansas. In October 2018, White River told Milburn that she was terminated effective immediately because the company could no longer obtain insurance coverage for any employee over the age of 72 who had driving responsibilities Milburn was 80 when she was fired. Boyd was the director of the Hardy Senior Life Center in Hardy, Arkansas. In October 2018, White River also told Boyd that she was discharged effective immediately because the company could not procure insurance coverage for any employee over the age of 72 who had driving responsibilities. Boyd was 77 at the time of her termination. Kipfer was employed as a van driver at the Hardy Senior Life Center. In October 2018, Kipfer’s employment was also terminated effectively immediately because White River could not obtain insurance coverage for any employee over the age of 72 who had driving responsibilities. Kipfer was 81 when he was discharged.

Although White River fired three older workers ostensibly because of an inability to obtain insurance coverage for them when performing driving duties, the EEOC contends that White River made no attempt to locate an alternative insurance policy that would allow for continued driving coverage for its employees.

Lawyers For Age Discrimination Victims

The EEOC is the administrative agency of the federal government responsible for interpreting and enforcing the federal employment laws prohibiting discrimination, harassment, and retaliation. As part of its statutory mission to deter employers from engaging in unlawful discriminatory employment practices, the EEOC brings lawsuits in federal court on behalf of employment discrimination victims, including employees subjected to unlawful age discrimination.

In a press release issued by the EEOC on July 13, 2021 regarding the case, a regional attorney for the EEOC’s Memphis District Office, Faye A. Williams, explained that the “primary purpose of Congress when passing the ADEA was to promote employment of older persons based on their ability rather than their age.” “An employee’s value,” Ms. Williams observed, “does not disappear simply because he or she has reached a certain age.” In commenting on the case, the Director of the EEOC’s Memphis District Office, Edmond Sims, stated that “this case serves as a reminder that employers may not set arbitrary age limits to displace older workers who are satisfactorily performing their jobs.”

Marion County, FL Age Discrimination Lawyers

Based in Ocala, Florida and representing workers in counties throughout Central Florida, our Ocala, Florida age discrimination attorneys have fought for the rights of age discrimination victims for more than twenty years. If you have been discriminated against because of age or have questions about your protection against age discrimination under federal employment discrimination law, please contact our office for a free consultation with our Marion County, Florida age discrimination lawyers. Our employment and labor law attorneys take age discrimination cases on a contingency fee basis. This means that there are no attorney’s fees incurred unless there is a recovery and our attorney’s fees come solely from the monetary award that you recover.

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