Department Store Chain Fired 61-Year-Old Area Sales Manager at Cary Store Because of Her Age, Federal Agency Charges
CHARLOTTE , N.C. – The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) today announced it has filed an age discrimination lawsuit against department store chain operator Dillard’s, Inc. The suit alleges that Dillard’s discriminated against Virginia Keene when it discharged her from the position of area sales manager at its store in Cary, N.C., because of her age, 61, in violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA).
According to the EEOC’s complaint, Dillard’s terminated Keene and replaced her with a 24-year-old employee who only had four months of experience as an area sales manager. Keene, on the other hand, had successfully worked as an area sales manager for over four years. At the time of her termination, Keene ranked second out of six area sales managers at the Cary store in terms of sales, the EEOC said. Keene had also received positive reviews in her two most recent performance appraisals and had twice been recommended for promotion. Throughout the course of her employment with Dillard’s, Keene’s managers made repeated references to her age, telling her she was “too old” for a sales job and that it might be time for her to “let the younger [managers] take over.”
The EEOC filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina, Western Division (EEOC v. Dillard’s, Inc., Civil Action No. 5:10-cv-00398), after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement out of court. In its complaint, the EEOC seeks back pay, liquidated damages, reinstatement and/or front pay for Keene, as well as injunctive relief.
“There is no excuse for firing an employee because of her age,” said Lynette A. Barnes, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Charlotte District Office. “Not only is this kind of practice unfair and counterproductive, it is illegal. The EEOC is committed to using all available means, including litigation, to combat age discrimination.”
The EEOC enforces the nation’s laws prohibiting discrimination in employment. More information about the EEOC is available on its website at www.eeoc.gov.