Employee fired for refusing to retire receives $105,000 in damages

This article originally appeared on Business Insider.

A former employee will receive $105,000 in back pay and damages after her company of nearly 20 years fired her because she refused to retire at 65, according to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

A discrimination lawsuit filed by the federal agency alleged that J&M Industries, Inc., a manufacturing and distribution company in Louisiana, violated federal age discrimination laws by firing the employee.

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act prohibits discrimination against individuals 40 years of age or older on the basis of age.

In a press release outlining the outcome of the lawsuit last week, the EEOC said a company manager repeatedly asked the employee, who was not named, about her retirement plans as she approached her 65th birthday.

The manager asked her directly: “When will you retire,” “Why don’t you retire at 65,” and “What is the reason you don’t retire?” reads the EEOC lawsuit.

When she told the company she had no plans to stop working immediately, the company informed her that her purchasing agent role would be eliminated due to economic uncertainty, the federal agency said.

But the EEOC said the company hired a man in his 30s for the same role, which it said it would eliminate, within a month.

The Miami Herald reported that the company denied firing the woman because of her age, saying the 39-year-old replacement had “broader and more significant duties than she had.”

The company said comments made about its pension plans were “stray observations” or were related to succession planning, according to the Miami Herald.

Under the three-year consent decree resolving the lawsuit, the company agreed to pay $105,000 in back pay and liquidated damages, provide training, review policies, provide regular reports to the EEOC and post a notice affirming compliance with the ADEA law.

The EEOC filed the lawsuit in the Eastern District of Louisiana.

“This resolution serves the public interest,” Rudy Sustaita, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Houston District Office, said in a statement.

“It provides relief to the former employee and will help protect others from age discrimination,” he added. “We are pleased that the EEOC and J&M Industries were able to reach this resolution.”

J&M Industries did not immediately respond to Business Insider’s request for comment, sent after hours.

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