ADEA Claim Without Lost Wages Is Dismissed

January 29, 2004 ( - An Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) claim without proof of lost wages, on its face must be dismissed.

>US Magistrate Jacob Hart reached this conclusion on the eve of Beverly v. Desmond Hotel & Conference Center after discovering the plaintiff in the case, James Beverly, had only one ADEA claim for which no lost wages could be shown.   Thus, the case was fatally flawed since the ADEA does not allow awards of compensatory or even nominal damages, according to a Legal Intelligencer report.

Hart concluded that even if a jury were to find a violation of the case, no damages would be available.

However, Beverly’s attorney, Joseph Dinoto, was not about to let the case go with a fight.   Dinoto argued for the case to go to trial, saying Beverly was still eligible for an award of liquidated damages if he could prove a willful violation of the ADEA.    Hart disagreed, finding that liquidated damages must be calculated on the basis of the plaintiff’s award for lost wages.   Thus, “if no nominal damages can be awarded, there is no way to double them to arrive at a correct award for liquidated damages,” Hart said in his opinion.

Originally, Beverly, acting as his own lawyer, filed the suit alleging claims not only under ADEA but also Title VII for alleged race discrimination.   However, most of Beverly’s claims were dismissed when US District Judge Stewart Dalzell ruled that the Desmond Hotel was entitled to summary judgement on the Title VII claims.

>Beverly was alleging he was fired because he was black after getting in a fight with a with a white kitchen worker.   However, Dalzell found the hotel justified in dismissing only Beverly after the altercation since Beverly had threatened to stab the other worker in the heart.

As a result of Dalzell’s rulings, the only remaining claim in Beverly’s case was an ADEA claim in which he alleged that he was denied a promotion from the kitchen to a post as busboy.   However, in that claim, Beverly was unable to prove lost wages, since the “promotion” to busboy would have placed Beverly in a lower paying job.   Ultimately, the case was dismissed.