U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
Transportation Company Fired Older Drivers Because of Their Ages, Federal Agency Charges
SPARTANBURG, S.C. - Atchison Transportation Services, Inc., the largest full-service ground transportation company in South Carolina, violated federal law by firing two employees because of their ages, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed yesterday.
According to the EEOC's suit, on or about Dec.21, 2011, William Thomas, who was a motor coach driver for Atchison, was told by the company's operations manager that the company was terminating him. The operations manager told Thomas that he had thought that Thomas was "only 70," but because he had discovered that Thomas was actually 75, the company had to let him go. The complaint alleges that the operations manager further stated that the company's insurance policy had a clause that did not allow drivers to drive after they reached the age of 75.
The EEOC's suit made similar allegations concerning Norris Locke, who also worked as a motor coach driver for the company. On April 30, 2009, when Locke was 76 years old, he was discharged by the same operations manager. According to the EEOC, the operations manager stated that Locke was terminated because the company's insurance policy would not insure Locke any longer. The EEOC said that the company's insurance policy had no clause that prohibited insuring older drivers.
Such alleged conduct violates the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA). The EEOC filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina, Spartanburg Division (EEOC v. Atchison Transportation Services, Inc., Civil Action No. 7:13-CV-02342-HMH-JDA), after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. In its complaint, the EEOC seeks back pay, liquidated damages, reinstatement and/or front pay for Thomas and Locke, as well as injunctive relief.
"There is no excuse for firing an employee who is fully capable of doing his or her job because of age," said Lynette A. Barnes, regional attorney for the EEOC's Charlotte District Office, whose jurisdiction also covers most of South Carolina. "Doing so is illegal. The EEOC is committed to using all available means, including litigation, to combat age discrimination."
The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws prohibiting discrimination in employment. Further information about the EEOC is available on its website at www.eeoc.gov.