45-Year-Old Qualified Candidate Denied Police Officer Position Due to Age, Federal Agency Charged
HONOLULU - The County of Maui will pay $24,000 and provide other relief to settle an age discrimination lawsuit filed against the Maui County Police Department by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced today.
EEOC filed suit against the County of Maui in 2013, charging that the police department failed to hire Lars Sandstrom because of his age, a violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) (EEOC v. County of Maui Police Department, Case No. 1:13-cv-00698-KSC). EEOC's suit alleged that Sandstrom applied for a police officer position with the police department and met all of the qualifications for the position, including a bachelor's degree and extensive military and life experience. Despite these qualifications, EEOC contended that Sandstrom was not selected for the position even though other less qualified younger candidates were hired during the time in question and comments were made about Sandstrom's age during his interview.
As part of the settlement announced today, the parties entered into a three-year consent decree providing $24,000 in damages to Sandstrom. The decree also requires the Maui County Police Department to designate an equal employment opportunity (EEO) monitor to ensure the department's compliance with the ADEA and anti-discrimination policies and procedures. The monitor will also focus on ensuring that the department creates and implements recruitment strategies designed to encompass an applicant pool of all potential employees, regardless of age.
The decree also requires a complaint process and impartial investigations, together with a centralized tracking system for discrimination complaints and provisions holding employees accountable for discrimination. Annual training on age-based discrimination and retaliation will be provided for all employees, especially those involved in human resources and at the supervisory level, to educate them on their rights and responsibilities on age discrimination with the goal of preventing and deterring any discriminatory practices in the future.
"Employers need to be mindful of the negative stereotypes and inaccurate assumptions made about the abilities of older workers," said Anna Park, regional attorney for EEOC's Los Angeles District, which includes Hawaii in its jurisdiction. "Such stereotypes have no place in the employment decision making process. Today's settlement sends a strong and powerful message to all employers, public and private sector alike, that equal employment opportunity extends to all, regardless of age."
Glory Gervacio Saure, local director of EEOC's Honolulu Local Office, said, "Age discrimination remains a problem, making up 19 percent of all EEOC charges filed in Hawaii last year. This settlement reinforces EEOC's steadfast commitment to ensuring that workers who are unjustly discriminated due to age have recourse."
Eliminating barriers in recruitment and hiring, especially class-based recruitment and hiring practices that discriminate against racial, ethnic and religious groups, older workers, women and people with disabilities, is one of six national priorities identified by EEOC's Strategic Enforcement Plan (SEP).
EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws against employment discrimination. Further information is available at www.eeoc.gov.