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EEOC Settles Age Discrimination Lawsuit Alleging Employee Was Fired Because Of His Age

multiple varied road signs reading you're fired

In a press release issued on April 22, 2019, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced that it has entered into a Consent Decree to settle an age discrimination lawsuit filed by the EEOC against Atlas Energy Group, LLC (Atlas Energy). On June 14, 2017, the EEOC filed the lawsuit, U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Atlas Energy Group, LLC, Case No. 3:17-cv-1582, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas after initially attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its statutorily mandated conciliation process. 

The EEOC brought the age discrimination lawsuit pursuant to the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) on behalf of a former employee of Atlas Energy, William Hutto (Hutto). The ADEA protects employees from discrimination on the basis of age. The EEOC claims that Atlas Energy terminated Hutto’s employment because of his age in violation of the ADEA. In this article, our Marion County, Florida age discrimination lawyers explain the EEOC’s allegations against Atlas Energy.

EEOC’S Allegations Of Age Discrimination

In April 2012, Hutto began working for Atlas Energy as a Production Foreman. In October 2012, Hutto began reporting to a new Production Superintendent. The EEOC claims that the Production Superintendent made age-related remarks in the workplace. The EEOC further claims that the Production Superintendent treated Hutto less favorably than younger employees, including with respect to the assignment of work routes. In January 2014, Atlas Energy fired Hutto. Before firing him, according to the EEOC, Atlas Energy did not subject Hutto to a performance improvement plan, written disciplinary action, or otherwise notify him that his job was in jeopardy. Hutto was fifty-two years old when terminated.

The EEOC contends that the Production Superintendent’s discriminatory animus against older employees was the real reason for Hutto’s termination. The EEOC claims that the Production Superintendent, motivated by age-based discriminatory animus, negatively evaluated Hutto’s work performance and recommended his termination. Relying on his negative performance evaluation and acting on his age-based discriminatory animus, the Production Superintendent persuaded human resources personnel and upper management to fire Hutto. As human resources personnel and upper management lacked personal knowledge of Hutto’s work performance, the EEOC maintains that human resources personnel and upper management were influenced, even if unwittingly, to terminate Hutto’s employment by an employee who was motivated by age-based discriminatory animus. Thus, according to the EEOC, but for the Production Superintendent’s age-based discriminatory termination recommendation, Hutto would not have been fired. 

Consent Decree Settling Age Discrimination Case

In the Consent Decree settling the lawsuit, which was signed by U.S. District Court Judge David C. Godbey on April 19, 2019, Atlas Energy agreed to pay Hutto $85,000 to resolve the age discrimination lawsuit. In the Consent Decree, Atlas Energy agreed to provide training to employees on age discrimination in employment, including the consequences of violating the ADEA. The EEOC also required Atlas Energy to maintain a written log of all complaints of age-related discrimination and submit copies of the log to the EEOC for a three-year period. Atlas Energy was also required to take measures to protect the rights of Hutto, including only allowing human resources personnel and legal counsel to access documents relating to Hutt’s age discrimination lawsuit.

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 issued by the EEOC regarding the case, a Regional Attorney for the EEOC, Robert Canino, stated that “[c]asting off long-term employees—who could otherwise continue to be solid contributors—based on age alone is unlawful and unacceptable” Mr. Canino further stated that the “EEOC will continue to combat this practice.”

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 in the workplace or have questions about your protection against age discrimination, 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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