In the months leading up to one employee’s 65th birthday, she was asked several times about her retirement plans.
“When are you going to retire,” “why don’t you retire at 65” and “why don’t you retire?” J&M Industries Inc. executives asked him, including his direct supervisor, according to a federal age discrimination lawsuit.
After saying she wouldn’t retire at 65, the company fired her — then replaced her with a younger man, according to the lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Before being fired the month before her birthday, the woman worked for nearly 20 years for the Louisiana-based manufacturing and distribution company as a purchasing agent, according to a complaint.
When she was laid off in May 2020, the company explained to her that “economic uncertainty” was the reason her position needed to be eliminated, the complaint states.
However, less than a month later, J&M Industries hired a 39-year-old man as a buyer in his place, the complaint states.
The company was accused of violating the Age Discrimination in Employment Act by terminating her, according to the EEOC. The law prohibits age discrimination against applicants or employees 40 years of age and older.
Now, J&M Industries will pay the woman $105,000 in back pay and damages to settle the case, the EEOC announced in a Feb. 1 press release.
McClatchy News contacted attorneys representing the company for comment on Feb. 5 and did not receive an immediate response.
“This resolution serves the public interest,” Rudy Sustaita, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Houston District Office, said in a statement. “This provides relief to the former employee and will help protect others from age discrimination.”
In response to the EEOC’s complaint, J&M Industries denied firing the woman because of her age.
The company also denied replacing her with the 39-year-old employee and argued it had “broader and more important reasons…