EEOC Settlement Obtains Free Job Training For Attorneys Age 60 Or Older In Age Discrimination Case
The Age Discrimination In Employment Act (ADEA) prohibits discrimination against employees and job applicants age 40 or over. In a recent age discrimination case, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) obtained a novel settlement by requiring Strategic Legal Solutions, a New York based legal employment agency, to provide free employment training for attorneys age 60 and over. The EEOC is an agency of the United States charged with the administration and enforcement of the ADEA.
In the case of EEOC v. Strategic Legal Resources, Inc., d/b/a Strategic Legal Solutions, the EEOC brought a lawsuit against Strategic Legal Solutions in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York on behalf of Claudia Zacks (Zacks) alleging that Strategic Solutions failed to hire Zack because of her age. The EEOC claimed that Strategic Legal Solutions offered Zacks, who at the time was a 70-year old New York based attorney, temporary legal work on a project in Novi, Michigan. Zacks accepted the position and received an email from Strategic Legal Solutions stating that she was scheduled to begin work the next day. The email also requested that Zacks provide additional information, including her date of birth. That same day, Zacks notified Strategic Legal Solutions of her date of birth and began making preparations for travel to Michigan. Later that same day, Zacks received a telephone call from a Recruiting Coordinator from Strategic Legal Solutions who insisted that Zacks could not possibly arrive at the job site the next day. When Zacks’ assurances that she would be able to arrive on time were met with further resistance from the Recruiting Coordinator, Zacks asked whether Strategic Legal Solutions was rescinding its offer because of her age. The Recruiting Coordinator then notified Zacks that not only would she not work on the scheduled assignment, she would also be placed on a “do not use” list and she should not apply for future employment opportunities with Strategic Legal Solutions.
In a Consent Decree which was signed by U.S. District Court Judge Valerie E. Caproni on July 8, 2015, Strategic Legal Solutions agreed to pay Zacks $80,000 to resolve the case. Strategic Legal Solutions also agreed to implement a training program called the Strategic Senior Counsel Program (SSCP) with the goal of training and providing employment opportunities for senior attorneys. The SSCP will provide free training to attorneys over age 60 and over on the use of the latest document review technology for the type of temporary document review legal assignments offered by Strategic Legal Solutions’ clients. Strategic Legal Solutions is required to offer the SSCP four times a years at its facilities and advertise the availability of the SSCP on its website. Participants who successfully complete the program will be awarded a Certificate of Completion and will be eligible to work on document review legal assignments for Strategic Legal Solutions. Strategic Legal Solutions is required to offer the SSCP for three years.
The novel settlement obtained by the EEOC illustrates that the ADEA vests the EEOC with broad authority to enforce the ADEA’s prohibition against age discrimination. Under the ADEA, an aggrieved person has the right to file a lawsuit alleging a violation of the ADEA. However, the ADEA also gives the EEOC the right to file a lawsuit on behalf of an aggrieved person. If the EEOC elects to file a lawsuit on behalf of an aggrieved person, the aggrieved person may not bring his or her own lawsuit. Rather, the aggrieved person’s right is limited to intervening in the EEOC’s lawsuit. Moreover, as explained by the U.S. Supreme Court in General Tel. Co. of the Northwest v. EEOC, 446 U.S. 318 (1980), when the EEOC brings a lawsuit on behalf of an aggrieved person, the EEOC does not merely act on behalf of the aggrieved person, but rather “seeks to advance the public interest in preventing and remedying employment discrimination.” Thus, as the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals observed in EEOC v. General Electric Co., 532 F.2d 359 (4th Cir. 1976), unlike the aggrieved person, the EEOC brings a lawsuit “to vindicate the public interest as expressed in the Congressional purpose of eliminating employment discrimination as a national evil rather than for the redress of the strictly private interests of the [aggrieved person].” Because the EEOC’s interests are broader than those of a person harmed by age discrimination, the EEOC in the Strategic Legal Solutions case was able to obtain relief for attorneys age 60 and over who were not parties to the lawsuit as part of its efforts to eliminate employment discrimination and achieve equal employment opportunity.
We have extensive experience representing employees who have been the subjected to age discrimination and other types of discrimination in the workplace. If you have been subjected to age discrimination, or have any questions regarding age discrimination in the workplace, please contact our office for a free consultation.