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U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission



PRESS RELEASE
9-29-11

EEOC Sues Western Energy Services of Durango for Age Discrimination

Colorado Company Refused To Hire Two Qualified And Experienced Electricians Because They Were “Too Old” To Do The Work.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – A Colorado corporation, Western Energy Services of Durango, also known as WESODI, violated federal law by refusing to hire two experienced electricians because of their age, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed September 27, 2011.

In its suit, the EEOC stated that WESODI refused to hire Eric Camron, then 72 years old, and Dennis Thomas, then 61 years old, because they were “too old” to perform the job duties. The EEOC alleged that these two older union members were next on the hiring list, but WESODI refused to hire them despite their vast work experience and qualifications. The suit further alleged that WESODI instead hired two lesser qualified electricians in their 20s to work on job projects in Hillsboro and Farmington, N.M.

Such alleged conduct violates the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), which prohibits employment discrimination based on age against employees over the age of 40. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico (EEOC v. Western Energy Services of Durango, Inc., Civil Action No. 11-cv-00866-RHS-WDS) after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement through the EEOC’s conciliation process.

“Employers cannot refuse employment to people simply because they are older,” said Regional Attorney Mary Jo O’Neill of the EEOC’s Phoenix District Office, which has jurisdiction over Arizona, Colorado, Wyoming, New Mexico and Utah. “Despite age-biased assumptions that exist in the work force, hiring decisions cannot be based on these inaccurate assumptions.”

The lawsuit requests the court to order WESODI to provide both Camron and Thomas with appropriate relief, including back wages and liquidated damages, and a permanent injunction enjoining the company from engaging in any further age-based discriminatory hiring practices. The EEOC also asks the court to order the company to institute and carry out policies and practices that eradicate and prevent age discrimination in its hiring decisions.

EEOC Deputy District Director Elizabeth Cadle added, “The investigation revealed that both electricians were qualified to perform the work in New Mexico, but were unlawfully refused employment because of their age. The EEOC will prosecute such cases vigorously to afford protection to older employees.”

The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.