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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.

Do Employers Continue To Act As If Age Discrimination Is A Legitimate Business Practice?

Words Age Equality. Wooden blocks with letters on blue background. Age discrimination concept. Copy space.

Having litigated employment discrimination cases for more than two decades, our age discrimination lawyers in Citrus County, Florida have learned that most age discrimination case law rarely acknowledges, let alone provides insight into, why employers discriminate against employees because of their age. In far too many age discrimination cases, employer-friendly courts seemingly adhere to a judicially created presumption that older workers are rarely discriminated against because of their age. To these courts, the possible existence of age discrimination is acknowledged only in cases involving blatant age-based discriminatory remarks by decision-makers. In the absence of such “smoking gun” evidence, employer-friendly courts generally give lip service to some disingenuous platitudes about how they find the allegations of age discrimination “troubling” or “concerning” and invariably rule that no age discrimination occurred.

Other courts, however, recognize that many employers believe that discriminating against older workers because of their age is a legitimate business practice. For example, in Graefenhain v. Pabst Brewing Co.,  827 F.2d 13 (7th Cir. 1987), the court observed that “many employers or younger business executives act as if they believe there are good business reasons for discriminating against older employees.” In this article, our age discrimination lawyers in Citrus County, Florida explain how the alleged facts in Doyle v. Mid-Hudson Valley Federal Credit Union, 2023 WL 4297192 (S.D. N.Y. June 30, 2023) provide another example of the discriminatory motives many employers harbor against older workers.

Age Discrimination Lawsuit

In that case, a woman named Doyle brought an age discrimination case against her former employer, Mid-Hudson Valley Federal Credit Union (“Mid-Hudson”), pursuant to the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (“ADEA”). Under the ADEA, employers are prohibited from discriminating against employees on the basis of age. Doyle claims that Mid-Hudson fired her because of her age in violation of the ADEA.

Mid-Hudson is a member-owned credit union. In April 2012, Doyle began working for Mid-Hudson as the Branch Manager at one of Mid-Hudson’s branches. In April 2019, Mid-Hudson terminated Doyle’s employment. Mid-Hudson contends that Doyle was fired because she allegedly forged her sister’s signature on an application regarding opening an account. Mid-Hudson’s Senior Vice President, Gomez, and Senior Branch Manager, Mastronardi, recommended Doyle’s termination. Doyle maintains that she was fired because Gomez believed that she was too old. Mid-Hudson hired an individual who was 35 years at the time of hiring to replace Doyle.

Doyle supports her claim that her termination was a product of age discrimination with a number of allegations concerning how Gomez treated her and other employees over the age of 40. Doyle alleges, for instance, that Gomez referred to older employees with derogatory labels such as “crazy,” “old as dirt,” “old lady,” and “crotchety old bat.” Doyle also alleges that Gomez only interacted meaningfully with younger employees when he visited her branch. Moreover, Doyle claims that Gomez and Mastronardi questioned her regarding her retirement plans, even though Doyle did not plan to retire in the near term and did not communicate any intention to retire to other Mid-Hudson employees.

Doyle also presented testimony from a Branch Sales Manager, Tuey-Bigelow, regarding Gomez’s alleged discriminatory animus towards Doyle. Tuey-Bigelow testified that Gomez “looked for any way that [Doyle] would mess up or want to retire.” Tuey-Bigelow further testified that Gomez told her “a couple of times . . . [Doyle] is old as dirt” and that “other times he’d say she’s too old . . . she’s just too old to do what we want to do.” Tuey-Bigelow also opined that Gomez “had a really laser focus at [Doyle] and getting her out and her age was the common denominator that was heard by me and others.”

“Too Old To Do What We Want To Do”

Mid-Hudson filed a motion with the trial court seeking dismissal of Doyle’s age discrimination claim. In moving for dismissal, Mid-Hudson argued that the evidence established that Doyle was fired for a legitimate, non-discriminatory reason and not because of her age. The trial court denied Mid-Hudson’s motion for dismissal and ruled that Doyle was entitled to proceed to a jury trial on her age discrimination claim.

The trial court found that Doyle had presented sufficient evidence to support a finding that her termination was based on age and that Mid-Hudson’s proffered reason for her termination was merely a pretext for age discrimination. In support of its conclusion, the trial court pointed to Doyle’s evidence that Gomez allegedly referred to older employees with derogatory labels, such as “old as dirt” and “old lady,” that Gomez and Mastrondari each questioned her about her retirement plans, and that Gomez only interacted meaningfully with younger employees when he vised her breach. The trial court further pointed to testimony from Tuey-Bigelow that Gomez told “a couple of times” that Doyle “is old as dirt” and that “[o]ther times he’d say she’s too old . . . she’s just too old to do what we want to do.” The trial court also noted Tuey-Bigelow testified that Gomez asked her when Doyle would retire “maybe eight times” and “had a really laser focus at [Doyle] and getting her out and her age was the common denominator that was heard by me and others.” Based on this evidence, the trial court concluded that a reasonable jury could find that Doyle was fired because of her age in violation of the ADEA.

Citrus County Age Discrimination Lawyers

Based in Ocala, Florida and representing workers throughout Florida, our age discrimination attorneys in Citrus County, Florida have represented age discrimination victims for more than twenty years. If you have been subjected to age discrimination or have questions about your protection from age discrimination under federal employment discrimination law, please contact our office for a free consultation with our age discrimination lawyers in Citrus County, Florida. Our employee rights law firm takes 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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