Airline Agrees to $500,000 Age Discrimination Suit Settlement

December 28, 2005 ( - Austrian Airlines has agreed to a $500,000 settlement in an age discrimination lawsuit charging that its former American sales director was retaliated against for fighting age barriers.

A news release from the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) said the suit was filed on behalf of William Thoman, who had opposed what he said were violations of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA).

According to the EEOC, the Austrian Airlines North America general manager fired Thoman in favor of a 32-year-old worker. Before the move, Thoman then 51, had objected to the manager’s statements that older workers were “worthless and ineffective” and told the general manager that under US law, he could not simply “get rid of” older workers.

In addition to paying Thoman $500,000, Austrian will take other measures on an international basis to ensure that the company does not discriminate against employees protected by US anti-discrimination laws.

“Age bias is still a persistent problem in the 21st century workplace,” said Spencer Lewis, director of the EEOC’s New York District Office, in the news release. “Employers must heighten their awareness to age discrimination, especially with the graying of the workforce.”