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EEOC Age Discrimination Lawsuit Claims That Older Managers Worked In Hostile Environment

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For more than twenty years, our Citrus County, Florida workplace harassment attorneys have fought for the rights of hostile work environment harassment victims. Through their decades of experience representing hostile work environment harassment victims, our Inverness, Florida workplace harassment lawyers know that older workers are often targeted for age-based discriminatory harassment. Despite having an obligation under federal employment discrimination law to protect older workers from age-based hostile work environment harassment, many employers fail to take corrective action to prevent known age-based workplace harassment. In this article, our Citrus County, Florida workplace harassment attorneys explain how an age harassment lawsuit recently filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) illustrates that federal employment discrimination law protects older workers from being harassed because of their age.

Age Harassment Lawsuit

In a press release issued on October 1, 2021, the EEOC announced that it has filed an age harassment lawsuit against Dolgencorp, LLC, which does business as Dollar General (Dollar General). On October 1, 2021, the EEOC filed the age harassment lawsuit, United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. v. Dolgencorp, LLC, Case No. 6:21-cv-00295, in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Oklahoma. The EEOC has filed the age harassment lawsuit under the Age Discrimination Act (ADEA) on behalf of three former employees of Dollar General. The EEOC claims that Dollar General violated the ADEA by requiring the employees to work in an age-based hostile environment.

Age Harassment Is Unlawful

The ADEA protects employees from discrimination on the basis of age. Under well-established law, age harassment is a form of age discrimination forbidden by the ADEA. To violate the ADEA, age harassment must be sufficiently severe or pervasive to alter the conditions of the victim’s employment and create a hostile working environment. Once an employer knows or should know of age-based harassment in the workplace, the employer is required by the ADEA to take corrective action to protect the age harassment victim. When an employer fails to take corrective action, or the corrective action is ineffective in stopping the harassment, the employer is liable under the ADEA for creating and maintaining an age-based hostile work environment. In order to protect age harassment victims, the ADEA also prohibits employers from retaliating against employees for complaining about perceived age harassment in the workplace.

Workers Claim Hostile Work Environment

The EEOC alleges that from July 2016 until January 2018, a Dollar General regional director, a man named DeAngelis consistently harassed district managers over the age of 50 working in the Eastern portion of Oklahoma. The almost daily harassment included telling district managers “we gotta get young blood in here,” implying older district managers were too old to do their jobs, stating he wanted to create a “millennial team,” and aggressively telling older district managers, “if I have to come and tell your stores what they need to do then I don’t need you.”

In September 2016, an older district manager who under DeAngelis’ supervision resigned. In this resignation letter, the district manager cited an age-based hostile work environment and DeAngelis’ discriminatory behavior as the reason for his resignation. That same month, Dollar General conducted interviews related to those allegations. Two district managers told Dollar General’s interviewer that DeAngelis harassed district managers based on age, including the use of age-based comments, name-calling, and threats. After the interviews, Dollar General did not discipline DeAngelis or take any action to monitor his actions to prevent future unlawful age-based harassment, aside from simply telling DeAngelis to stop using ageist phrases such as “this is the time of millennials.”

After being told to stop, DeAngelis continued making age-based harassing comments, including calling older district managers “grumpy old men” in group settings, stating he wanted to build a “millennial team,” and telling older district managers that they would never fit into that team. DeAngelis also told one older district manager that if he could not keep up with the millennial team, he should quit or would be fired. DeAngelis also bragged to district managers that he was “protected by human resources,” indicating to district managers that they had no recourse but to accept his age-based harassment.

Lawyers For Workplace Harassment Victims

The EEOC is the administrative agency of the United States government responsible for administering, interpreting, and enforcing federal employment discrimination law. In order to protect and preserve the rights guaranteed to employees under the federal employment discrimination laws, the EEOC brings lawsuits in federal court on behalf of employment discrimination victims, including age discrimination victims. In a press release issued on October 1, 2021 regarding the case, a regional attorney for the EEOC’s St. Louis District Office, Andrea G. Baran, explained that “just like harassment based on sex or race, workplace harassment based on age is illegal.” “Employers must take serious, effective steps,” Ms. Baran added, “to ensure that employees, regardless of their age, can work in a setting free from discrimination and harassment.”

Inverness, FL Workplace Harassment Lawyers

Based in Ocala, Florida and representing workers throughout Central Florida, our Citrus County, Florida workplace harassment attorneys have represented employees required to work in a hostile working environment for more than twenty years. If you have been subjected to hostile work environment harassment or have questions about your rights as a workplace harassment victim, please contact our office for a free consultation with our Inverness, Florida workplace harassment lawyers. Our employee rights law firm takes workplace harassment 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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