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Employment Law Blog
James Tarquin, P.A
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Worker Claims Discriminatory Age Remarks Prove That He Was Fired Because Of Age

Phrase Age is just a number. Wooden blocks with lettering on a blue background. Ageism concept.

For more than two decades, our Citrus County, Florida discrimination lawyers have fought for the rights of employment discrimination victims. Through their years of experience representing employment discrimination victims, our Inverness, Florida discrimination attorneys know that older workers are frequently subjected to derogatory remarks about their age. In many cases, the derogatory age remarks reflect management’s discriminatory animus towards older workers and desire to replace them with younger individuals. In this article, our Citrus County, Florida discrimination lawyers explain how the decision in Teachey v. Equinox Holdings, Inc., Case No. 18-cv-10740 (S.D. N.Y. April 14, 2022) shows that derogatory age remarks are compelling evidence of an age-based discriminatory discharge in violation of federal employment discrimination law.

Age Discrimination Lawsuit

In that case, a man named Teachey brought an age discrimination case against his former employer, Equinox Holdings, Inc. (Equinox), pursuant to the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA). The ADEA prohibits employers from discriminating against employees on the basis of age. Teachey claims that Equinox violated the ADEA by terminating his employment because of his age.

Equinox operates fitness gyms throughout the United States. In February 2017, Teachey was hired for as a front desk associate at Equinox’s gym in N.Y. City. At the time of his hire, Teachey was fifty years old. However, there was no evidence suggesting that Equinox or any Teachey’s supervisors were aware that Teachey was fifty before he began working at Equinox. In fact, Teachey testified that no one asked him how old he was during his interview process and he did not volunteer that information. As a front desk associate, Teachey was responsible for greeting members and verifying membership IDs.

In January 2020, Equinox subjected Teachey to disciplinary action for not wearing his Equinox uniform shirt during his shift in violation of the company’s dress code policy. Later than month, Teachey was once again subjected to disciplinary action because, while Teachey was working at the front desk, an Equinox member and his guest entered the gym without being properly checked in violation of the company’s guest policy. Shortly after this second incident, Equinox fired Teachey. Equinox claims that Teachey was fired for violating two of Equinox’s policies in less than two weeks.

Discriminatory Age Remarks

Teachey contends that upon his hire, he experienced age-based discrimination, which was chiefly driven by the belief among Equinox’s management that he was too old to be a front desk associate. Teachey identifies multiple instances of discriminatory remarks regarding his age by Equinox employees. For example, Teachey alleges that during his onboarding process with Equinox, he heard the gym’s membership advisor, Eckert, refer to him as “an old queen.” Teachey also claims that an assistant manager named Mongiovi told him that the general manger, Hook, asked him why he had hired someone so old as a front desk associate and that Hook said that Teachey was too old to be at the front desk. Another assistant manager, Rivera, told Teachey that Hook had told him, referring to Treachey, “I don’t know about this guy, he seems a little old for the front desk.,” and asked,” Why has he not moved above manager for his age?” Teachey also claims that a regional manager, Gecht, who took over from Hook as Teachey’s direct supervisor in September 2017, treated Teachey worse because of his age, including screaming at him, “You’re too old. Aren’t you like 50?”

Derogatory Age Remarks Reflect Discrimination

Equinox filed a motion with the trial court seeking dismissal of Teachey’s age discrimination claim. In support of its motion for dismissal, Equinox argued that the evidence established that Teachey was fired for a legitimate, non-discriminatory reason—his back-to-back dress code policy violation and guest policy violation. The trial court denied Equinox’s motion for dismissal and ruled that Teachey’s evidence entitled him to proceed to a jury trial on the issue of whether he was fired because of his age in violation of the ADEA.

In denying Equinox’s motion for dismissal, the trial court focused on the alleged age-related comments by Equinox employees. The trial court observed that the alleged age-related remarks “made to or about Teachey by Equinox’s management, including those involved in the decision to terminate him,” reflected “age-based animus” and support “an inference that Teachey’s termination was based on his age[.]” “These repeated age-related remarks by those involved with the decision to terminate “Teachey’s employment, coupled with evidence about the circumstances of Teachey’s termination,” the trial court reasoned, would enable a “reasonable jury [to] find that Equinox’s asserted reason for Teachey’s termination—his back-to-back dress code policy violation and guest policy violation—was pretextual, and that the real reason for his termination was his age.”

Citrus County, FL Discrimination Lawyers

Based in Ocala, Florida and representing employees throughout Florida, our discrimination attorneys in Citrus County, Florida have litigated employment discrimination cases in Florida courts for more than two decades. If you have experienced workplace discrimination or have questions about your employee rights under federal employment discrimination law, please contact our office for a free consultation with our discrimination lawyers in Citrus County, Florida. Our employee rights law firm takes 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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