Court Dismisses Age Discrimination Suit Against Wal-Mart

March 27, 2012 ( – A federal court dismissed an age discrimination claim against Wal-Mart Stores. 

U.S. Magistrate Judge George A. Yanthis of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York found Elsie Crowell provided no evidence that supervisors or Wal-Mart management created working conditions that were so intolerable that they would have compelled a reasonable person in the same situation to retire. Nor did he find anything to substantiate that Crowell suffered any of the other claimed adverse employment actions.  

“Although the plaintiff receives the benefit of all factual inferences on a defendant’s motion for summary judgment, she must point to some evidence in the record that creates a genuine issue of material fact. She may not rest solely on her assertions in the complaint,” Yanthis wrote in his opinion.  

Crowell became a personnel manager at a Wal-Mart store in 2008 at the age of 69. After she received two “Coaching for Improvements” for errors that interfered with two employees’ pay, she asked for a leave of absence and was granted one. Two days after returning from the first leave, Crowell requested and was granted a second leave. Crowell states that she requested the leaves due to work stress caused by the coachings she had received and by the fact that the store manager did not speak to her for three months. Instead of taking the second leave, Crowell left her employment on April 11, 2009.  

Crowell also asserted that: (1) she and other older employees were not afforded access to the Open Door Policy as were younger employees; (2) she and other older employees did not receive breaks properly spread across her shift as younger workers did; (3) she and other older employees were more harshly disciplined than younger staff; (4) she and other older employees “suffered [a] decimation of [Wal-Mart’s] national Anti-Harassment Policy;” (5) claims of harassment and discrimination toward her and other older employees were not investigated; (6) management strictly enforced the dress code only against older employees; and (7) she and other older employees suffered a hostile work environment.  

In addition, Crowell claimed she was fired, but in her testimony, when asked if she voluntarily retired, she said yes.  

The opinion available is here.