EEOC Snubs Age Discrimination – Again

Yet again, the EEOC in 2014 devoted a disproportionately small percentage of its resources toward litigating age discrimination complaints.

The EEOC filed 133 merits lawsuits during FY 2014, compared to 131 in 2013 and 378 a decade ago. Merits lawsuits include direct suits and interventions by the EEOC alleging violations of the substantive provisions of federal discrimination laws as well as suits to enforce administrative settlements.  Of the merits lawsuits filed by the EEOC in 2014:

  • 76 contained Title VII claims
  • 49 contained Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) claims;
  • 12 contained Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) claims;
  • two contained Equal Pay Act (EPA) claims;
  • two contained Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act (GINA) claims.

* Note – some suits have multiple claims.

So about eight percent of  the claims in merit lawsuits filed by the  EEOC in 2014 involved age discrimination. Typically, age discrimination complaints represent at least 20 percent of all EEOC complaints. If this holds true in 2014 – the EEOC has not released these statistics yet – the EEOC will have  devoted a disproportionately small share of its resources to litigating age discrimination claims. The EEOC filed seven merits lawsuits with age discrimination claims in 2013.

In my new book Betrayed: The Legalization of Age Discrimination in the Workplace, I show that the odds are heavily stacked against employment discrimination victims in federal courts, and particularly age discrimination victims, who start out with a higher burden of proof. The vast majority of age discrimination claims are summarily dismissed by judges. I also argue that age discrimination is epidemic in American society because Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 fails to protect older workers and the EEOC has virtually ignored the problem.

 According to its annual report, the EEOC attained settlements in two systemic age discrimination lawsuits in 2014.. These lawsuits involve  multiple complainants. The two lawsuits are:

  •  In EEOC v. DSW (N.D. Ill.), the EEOC alleged that a nationwide shoe retailer fired a class of individuals aged 40 and older during a “reduction in force” and fired some employees who opposed orders to discriminate against older employees. DSW agreed to pay approximately $1 million to 108 employees, as well as to report age discrimination complaints to the EEOC for three years.
  • In EEOC v. Ruby Tuesday (W.D. Pa.), the EEOC alleged that the national restaurant chain failed to hire applicants’ aged 40 and older for any position at five restaurants in Pennsylvania and Ohio, and failed to maintain employment records. According to the suit, the restaurant began an image overhaul to present a “fresh” and “contemporary” look, and general managers were instructed to look for “Victoria’s Secret” applicants and those who were “young” and “fresh.” Over a two-year period, virtually no older applicants were hired for front-of-the-house positions and only a few were hired for back-of-the-house positions. In a consent decree, Ruby Tuesday agreed to pay $575,000 to approximately 200 individuals and to make a good faith, reasonable efforts to hire older individuals at a percentage equal to the applicant flow for each position for three and a half years.

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