City Hired Younger Workers Over More Qualified 58-Year-Old Applicant, Federal Agency Charged
GREENSBORO , N.C. – The City of Greensboro has agreed to pay $91,000 and furnish other relief to settle an age discrimination lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today. The EEOC had charged that the city failed to hire a 58-year-old job applicant in June 2007 in favor of three younger candidates.
The EEOC brought the lawsuit against the City of Greensboro under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) after the city failed to hire Terry Pearson (then age 58) as an electronic processes specialist within the city’s Guilford Metro 911 Division. The job was a technician’s position and generally involved maintenance of the city’s radio communication systems for first responders. Pearson had owned an electronics repair shop and had other substantial experience in electronics repair and maintenance through various technician jobs. However, the city selected three substantially younger applicants, all under age 40, who, the EEOC contends, were not as qualified as Pearson. According to the EEOC, several individuals in the case testified that Pearson was rejected because of his age, and specifically, that the hiring manager was concerned Pearson might retire soon after being hired.
Discrimination against persons age 40 and over based on age violates the ADEA. The EEOC filed its complaint in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. city of Greensboro, Civil Action No. 1:09-cv-00576) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.
The lawsuit also involved a claim against the city for failure to preserve records related to hiring for the position. Federal law requires all employers to keep documents related to personnel decisions for at least one year, and further requires that employers retain such documents in the event an EEOC charge is filed against the employer after the personnel decision is made.