Earlier this month, a Sacramento jury awarded a woman $4.75 million in damages for being wrongly terminated due to her age and gender. The woman had been a top performer for more than 10 years at Bass Underwriters in Sacramento. She managed the office, earned a generous salary, and had a reputation for being an aggressive broker.
In 2013, she was fired from the job she had held for almost 15 years. The woman sued, claiming that she was fired because of her age, and that the company hired a younger male employee. The attorneys for the employer argued that the woman quit her job after a family dispute at the company involving her brother, who is an executive vice president at Bass.
During the trial, the woman was able to prove that the company’s Sacramento office was increasingly hiring younger, male employees. The company developed a “boys’ club culture” with men-only golf outings. Men were also often hired and promoted ahead of women. At one point, the plaintiff requested a promotion for a female subordinate in the office. Her bosses were reluctant, and began inquiring about the subordinate’s age and when she planned to retire. One corporate vice president insinuated that the subordinate should retire soon, and suggested a successor.
After the trial, a Sacramento jury ruled that the company discriminated and retaliated against and harassed the longtime manager because she was a woman and was near retirement age. The jury awarded her $2.75 million in punitive damages and $2 million in compensation.
Bass plans to appeal. It alleges that it had no issue with the employee, and pointed out that she had always been older, had always been a woman, and had made millions of dollars for the company. It says that she was not fired, and that it did not discriminate against her. Instead, Bass alleges that a family dispute involving her brother was the real cause for the woman to leave the company. They allege that she chose to resign. The company says that it has no intention of reviewing its internal policies because it did not discriminate against her.
Unfortunately, age discrimination and harassment in the workplace are common. Over 70,000 accusations of age discrimination, retaliation, and harassment were filed with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing between 2011 and 2014. Of those, over 16,000 claimed they suffered discrimination on the basis of age, almost 40,000 claimed retaliation and almost 16,000 claimed age-related harassment.
Although they are common, age discrimination, harassment, and retaliation in the workplace are illegal. Federal and state laws prohibit discrimination or harassment based on age, if the employee or potential employee is over the age of 40. Workers under the age of 40 are not protected. The harasser can be the victim’s supervisor, another supervisor, or someone else. Employers must evaluate their employment policies or practices in order to see if they have a negative impact on applicants or employees over the age of 40.
At Liberty Law, Micha Star Liberty believes that older employees should be treated with the respect they deserve. If you believe that you have been the victim of age discrimination in the workplace, call Micha Star Liberty, Oakland age discrimination attorney, at 510-645-1000 or 415-896-1000. She will work hard on your behalf to ensure that you get the compensation you deserve. She works with clients throughout the Bay area, including Hayward, Tracy, Fairfield, San Jose, Berkeley, Sacramento, and the surrounding areas. Call her today to schedule your free consultation.