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EEOC Files Age Discrimination Case Against Michigan Governmental Agency

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The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently announced that it has filed an age discrimination lawsuit against the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (Department of Health) pursuant to the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA). The ADEA protects employees, including job applicants, who are over forty years of age from discrimination on the basis of age. The EEOC has brought the age discrimination lawsuit on behalf of Phyllis DeWaters (DeWaters), an individual who applied for employment with the Department of Health, and Janet Luchies, a former employee of the Department of Health.

On September 28, 2018, the EEOC filed the lawsuit, EEOC v. Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, Case No. 1:18-cv-1127, in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan after initially attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its statutorily mandated conciliation process. The EEOC claims that the Department of Health refused to hire DeWaters because of her age in violation of the ADEA. The EEOC further claims that the Department of Health violated the ADEA by discriminating against and ultimately forcing Luchies to quit because of her age. In this article, our Marion County, Florida age discrimination lawyers explain the EEOC’s allegations against the Department of Health.

EEOC’S Allegations Of Age Discrimination

The Department of Health operates the Kalamazoo Psychiatric Hospital. In December 2015, DeWaters applied for the position of clinical social worker at the Kalamazoo Psychiatric Hospital. DeWaters was 56 years old when she applied for the position. The Clinical Services Director for the Kalamazoo Psychiatric Hospital was a recently promoted 31-year old man. DeWaters was unanimously recommended as the candidate to hire by three members of the interview panel appointed by the Clinical Services Director. According to the EEOC, the Clinical Services Director chose to hire a substantially younger and less qualified candidate and identified a preference for young candidates as the reason for doing so.

Luchies worked as a clinical social worker at the Kalamazoo Psychiatric Hospital from June 1998 until her retirement in October 2016. Prior to the Clinical Services Director’s hire as her supervisor in November 2015, Luchies had received “high performance” ratings on her most recent annual review. The EEOC claims that the newly-hired Clinical Services Director assigned Luchies to work in the most difficult area of the hospital and began to compile a list of purported problems with her work and spoke to her in a derogatory manner. The EEOC maintains that no other social worker under the supervision of the Clinical Services Director was subjected to the same kind of scrutiny, evaluation, or treatment. Because of the age-based discriminatory treatment she endured, the EEOC contends, Luchies was compelled to resign her employment. Luchies was 59 years old when her employment ended.

EEOC Fights Age Discrimination

The EEOC is the administrative agency of the United States responsible for interpreting and enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. In enforcing the federal anti-discrimination laws, the EEOC is also authorized by federal law to bring lawsuits on behalf of victims of employment discrimination. In a press release regarding the case, the trail attorney for the Detroit Field Office, Dale Price, stated that “[d]enying hire to an applicant because of age and forcing an employee to quit because of age are unlawful acts.” “The EEOC is pursuing this matter,” Mr. Price added, “because federal law provides specific protections to members of our workforce, like DeWaters and Luchies, who are 40 and older.”

Free Consultation With Ocala Age Discrimination Lawyers

Based in Ocala, Florida and representing employees throughout Central Florida, we have represented employment discrimination victims in hundreds of cases before the EEOC. If you have experienced age discrimination at work or have questions about the federal anti-discrimination laws, please contact our office for a free consultation with our Marion County, Florida age discrimination attorneys. Our employment and labor law attorneys take employment 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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