Rail Giant Refused to Hire Men Because of Age, Federal Agency Charged
OKLAHOMA CITY – Burlington Northern & Santa Fe Railway Company (BNSF) will pay $95,000 and furnish other relief to settle an age discrimination lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.
According to the EEOC’s suit, BNSF violated the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) when it failed to hire both Jimmy Rider and Randy Aultman because of their age. At the time they submitted employment applications to BNSF for maintenance-of-way positions in October 2005, Rider and Aultman were ages 55 and 43, respectively. The EEOC filed suit in July 2007, in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma (Case No. Civ-07-734-D), after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.
As part of the settlement, BNSF agreed to pay $75,000 to Rider and $20,000 to Aultman in compensation for their lost wages. Additionally, BNSF agreed for the next two years to provide on-site employment discrimination training to the hiring panel managers in its Texas Division whenever positions covered under the company’s collective bargaining agreement are filled. BNSF’s Texas Division encompasses the states of Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and parts of Kansas. Furthermore, BNSF must report any and all complaints of age discrimination made by its employees or applicants in Oklahoma to the EEOC Regional Attorney during the same two-year time period.
“It is vitally important, especially given the current economic climate, to protect members of our work force from discrimination based on characteristics that have no correlation with job performance, such as age,” said EEOC Regional Attorney Barbara Seely. “We are extremely pleased with the onsite hiring panel training BNSF has agreed to provide in its Texas Division, and we are hopeful that the training program will serve as a model for the company’s other divisions.”
According to company information, Fort Worth, Texas-based BNSF employs approximately 38,000 people and operates in 28 states.
The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on the agency’s website at www.eeoc.gov.