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U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission



PRESS RELEASE
4-8-13

WESODI Agrees to Pay $90,000 to Settle EEOC Age Discrimination Lawsuit

Two Electricians Denied Jobs Because They Were Deemed to Be 'Too Old,' Federal Agency Charged

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - Western Energy Services of Durango, Inc. (WESODI) has agreed to pay $90,000 and furnish other relief to settle an age discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.

According to the EEOC's lawsuit filed in Albuquerque, N.M., two journeymen linemen electricians, Dennis Thomas (then age 61) and Eric Camron (then age 72), were referred for WESODI job openings in northern New Mexico by the IBEW local union in Albuquerque, but the company rejected the referrals because of the men's ages.  In each instance, after the referrals were refused, two men in their mid-twenties were awarded the jobs.  Camron and Thomas, as well as the local union's dispatcher, alleged that WESODI's line superintendent stated that he was rejecting the referrals because of their ages.

In addition to the monetary settlement, WESODI, based in Durango, Colo., has agreed to post its anti-discrimination policy, provide training about anti-discrimination laws to its employees and managers, and to make periodic reports to the EEOC.

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA) prohibits employment discrimination because of age.  Employees and applicants 40 years of age and older are protected under the ADEA.  The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico (EEOC v. Western Energy Services of Durango, Inc., 11-cv-00866 PJK-CG [D.N.M.]) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. 

"Age discrimination remains a serious issue across the country," said Mary Jo O'Neill, regional attorney for the EEOC's Phoenix District, which includes Colorado and New Mexico.  "We applaud WESODI for working cooperatively with us to bring this case to a close.  The EEOC's Denver and Albuquerque Offices and WESODI worked collaboratively to resolve this matter to the parties' mutual satisfaction."

Derick Newton, area director of the EEOC's Albuquerque Area Office, added, "The EEOC takes age discrimination, and all discrimination, very seriously.  In these economically challenging times, fair treatment by employers is more important than ever.  

In fiscal year 2012, the EEOC received 22,857 age discrimination charges nationwide, which accounted for 23% of the total charges it received that year.

Western Energy Services of Durango, Inc. (WESODI) is a wholly owned subsidiary of La Plata Electric Association, Inc. (LPEA) of Durango, Colo.  WESODI was formed in July 1999 to assist LPEA in building and maintaining their electric utility infrastructure.

The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.  The EEOC's Denver Field Office and Albuquerque Area Office enforce federal anti-discrimination laws in Colorado and New Mexico respectively.