EEOC Continues to Crack Down on Age Bias

The agency has alleged violations of the ADEA against Norfolk Southern and Llanerch Country Club in two new lawsuits.

Last year, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) celebrated the 50th birthday of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA). Recognizing that today’s employees live longer and want to work longer, it held a hearing to discuss what works and what doesn’t in the ADEA.


The EEOC continues to crack down on age bias. Last week, it filed a lawsuit against RockAuto, LLC, a Madison, Wisconsin-headquartered Internet-based auto parts seller, alleging the company refused to hire a 64-year-old job applicant because of his age. The very next day, the agency sued Norfolk Southern Corporation, which operates a 20,000-mile freight railroad system in the eastern United States.


According to the lawsuit, Norfolk Southern preferred to hire individuals younger than 52 for special agent positions in the railroad’s law enforcement and security detail because Norfolk Southern assumed older workers would retire soon after they were hired.  For example, one 56-year-old applicant was told that he would not advance in the hiring process because he was older than 52. The applicant had nearly 30 years of law enforcement experience and a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice.


The EEOC has also sued Llanerch Country Club (LCC), in Havertown, Pennsylvania, saying it violated federal law by discriminating against a long-term groundskeeper because of his age.


According to that suit, the groundskeeper was the oldest member of LCC’s grounds maintenance department and had worked for the country club since 2004 without any discipline or performance problems. In December 2016, when he was 59 years old, LCC temporarily laid off the groundskeeper for the winter season.


Approximately one month later, LCC posted a job announcement for nine groundskeeper positions. EEOC charges that LCC informed the groundskeeper he would not be rehired to his position in spring 2017 because the country club was “looking to take the staff in a younger direction.” Less than three weeks later, LCC hired nine significantly younger groundskeepers, many of whom were 20 or 30 years his junior. In addition, LCC continued to employ other younger groundskeepers.


Kevin Berry, district director of the EEOC’s New York Office, says, “The EEOC is committed to eradicating age discrimination and will keep fighting to ensure that older workers have the same opportunities for employment as other candidates.”