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EEOC Sues Kanbar Property Management for Age Discrimination

Long-Time  Property Manager for Downtown Tulsa Skyscrapers Booted for ‘Younger,  Prettier’ Replacements, Federal Agency Charges

TULSA, Okla. – Kanbar Property Management LLC (KPM), which  manages several down­town Tulsa commercial office buildings, violated federal  law by terminating one of its long-time and well-qualified property managers because  of her age, 53, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged  in a lawsuit it filed today.

According to the EEOC’s suit, KPM informed Toni Strength that  “due to a reorganization of services, it has become necessary to reduce the  administrative management staff” and that her property manager position had  been “eliminated effective October 29, 2010.”   Two  days later, after its supposed restructuring, KPM  replaced Toni Strength with two new property managers, ages 23 and 39, because  its chief operating officer wanted “younger and prettier” property managers to  meet and entertain potential tenants after business hours.

Such alleged conduct violates the Age Discrimination in Employment  Act of 1967 (ADEA), which makes it unlawful to discharge any employee over the  age of 40 because of age.  The EEOC filed  its lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma (EEOC v. Kanbar Property Management LLC, Civil  Case No.: 12-CV- ________) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation  settlement through its conciliation process.   The EEOC’s suit seeks back  pay, liquidated damages and reinstatement or front pay for Strength as well as  injunctive relief, including a court order prohibiting KPM from any further  discrimination against employees on the basis of their age.

 “KPM used the  deception of a purported reorganization to mask its discriminatory plan to fire  a qualified long-term older employee and replace her with ‘younger and  prettier’ property managers,” said EEOC trial attorney Jeff Lee.  “This litigation will serve notice to  employers and KPM that the EEOC will not allow Oklahoma employees to be discarded  once they reach a perceived expiration date in their 50s.”

Barbara A. Seely, regional attorney of the EEOC’s St.  Louis District Office, which oversees Oklahoma, added, “Federal law has long  prohibited employers from discriminating against employees who are over 40  years of age.  The level of deceit  practiced by KPM, as reflected in the plan to replace Ms. Strength with two  younger employees, clearly demonstrates Kanbar Property Management’s willful  intent to circumvent discrimination law – and it won’t work.”

According to company information, Kanbar Property  Management LLC manages  more than two million square feet of office space in downtown Tulsa.  In fact, KPM parent company Kanbar Properties  Inc. holds more than 30 percent of downtown Tulsa in its commercial portfolio,  including First Place Tower, the Petroleum Club Building and the Bank of  America Tower.

 The EEOC is  responsible for enforcing federal laws against employment discrimination.  Further information is available at