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EEOC Settles Age Discrimination Case Alleging Employees Were Not Promoted Because Of Their Age

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On December 13, 2019, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued a press release announcing that it has entered into a Consent Decree to settle an age discrimination and retaliation lawsuit against Tucoemas Federal Credit Union (Tucoemas).  On July 1, 2019, the EEOC filed the age discrimination and retaliation lawsuit, United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Tucoemas Federal Credit Union, Case No. 1:19-cv-00986, in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California after initially attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its statutorily mandated conciliation process.

The EEOC brought the age discrimination and retaliation lawsuit pursuant to the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) on behalf of three former employees of Tucoemas, Cindy Summers (Summers), Sherry Belcher (Belcher), and Cynthia Seymour (Seymour).  The ADEA protects employees from discrimination on the basis of age.  The ADEA also protects employees from retaliation when they complain about perceived age discrimination in the workplace.  The EEOC claims that the three employees were passed over for promotion because of their age.  The EEOC further claims that Tucoemas retaliated against Belcher and Seymour for complaining about age discrimination.  In this article, our Ocala, Florida age discrimination lawyers explain the EEOC’s allegations against Tucoemas and the Consent Decree.

Employees Claim Discrimination Based On Age

In August 2015, Tucoemas’ Chief Executive Officer, a woman named Reese, announced her retirement.  Tucoemas began the process of hiring a replacement for Reese.  Summers, Belcher, and Seymour were all encouraged by Reese to apply for the CEO position and all applied for the position.  On the day they were interviewed for the CEO position, Summers was 55, Belcher was 50, and Seymour was 60.  When they applied for the CEO position, according to the EEOC, each employee met the minimum qualifications for the position.  After one round of interviews, a younger applicant was selected for the CEO position. When the younger applicant was selected for the CEO position, the EEOC maintains, he did not meet the minimum qualifications listed on Tucoemas’ own job posting.

Employees Allege Unlawful Retaliation

In May 2016, after she was passed over for promotion to the CEO position, Belcher filed a charge of discrimination with the EEOC claiming age discrimination.  That same month, the selected CEO asked Belcher if she was “gunning for him” and stated that he could not work with people he could not trust.  Belcher responded that she was not gunning for him but that she had filed an EEOC charge of discrimination.  The selected CEO acknowledged that he knew of the charge of discrimination.  Later that month, Belcher was summoned by the Supervisory Committee Chairman to a meeting.  At the meeting, a Supervisory Committee Member asked Belcher why she filed the charge of discrimination and went on to tell Belcher that Belcher could lose her job for filing an EEOC charge of discrimination.  Because of the retaliatory intimidation and coercion, Belcher submitted her letter of resignation, stating that she was “concerned on a daily basis about the likelihood of losing [her] job.”

In May 2016, after she was passed over for promotion to the CEO position, Seymour filed a charge of discrimination with the EEOC alleging age discrimination.  After she filed the EEOC charge of discrimination, the selected CEO set loan goals for Seymour that were unattainable.  When Seymour complained that the goals were unreasonable, the CEO rebuffed her complaint.  At the end of 2016, the selected CEO conducted a performance review of Seymour that suggested she lacked the ability to collaborate with others.  In February 2017 Seymour was informed that a severance package was being prepared for her, in part, because she failed to unequivocally commit to the selected CEO’s leadership.  Seymour was instructed not to return to work.

Monetary Relief For Discrimination Victims

In the Consent Decree settling the lawsuit, which was signed by U.S. District Court Judge Anthony W. Ishii on December 12, 2019, Tucoemas agreed to pay $419,000 to resolve the age discrimination and retaliation case.  In the Consent Decree, the EEOC required Tucoemas to provide training to employees on age discrimination and retaliation, including training on the type of conduct that constitutes age discrimination and retaliation.  The Consent Decree further mandates that Tucoemas provide the EEOC with annual reports regarding all complaints of age discrimination and retaliation, including the names of the complainants, the nature of the alleged age discrimination or retaliation, and a summary of how each complaint was resolved.

EEO Law Prohibits Age Discrimination

The EEOC is the administrative agency of the United States responsible for interpreting and enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination, harassment, and retaliation.  In enforcing the federal civil rights laws, the EEOC is also authorized by federal law to bring lawsuits on behalf of employees discriminated against because of their age and employees subjected to retaliation for complaining about age discrimination.  In a press release issued by the EEOC on December 13, 2019 regarding the case, the Director of the EEOC’s Freson District Office, Melissa Barrios, stated that “retaliation can chill a workforce from coming forward and reporting illegal behavior.”

Consultation With Ocala Age Discrimination Lawyers

Based in Ocala, Florida and representing employees throughout Central Florida, our Ocala, Florida age discrimination attorneys have represented age discrimination victims for almost two decades.  If you have been discriminated against on the basis of age or have questions about your protection from retaliation for complaining about age-based discrimination, please contact our office for a free consultation with our Ocala, Florida age discrimination lawyers.  Our Ocala, Florida employment 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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