EEOC Cracks Down on Age Discrimination With a New Lawsuit

The agency is accusing an internet-based auto parts seller of violating federal law when it refused to hire a 64-year-old job applicant.

A number of individuals see retiring later as a strategy to having enough income to last throughout their lifetime, but a new Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) case highlights how this may be a struggle for some.

The EEOC has charged that RockAuto, LLC, a Madison, Wisconsin-headquartered Internet-based auto parts seller, violated federal law when it refused to hire a job applicant because of his age.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, Glenn McKewen, who was 64 years old at the time, applied for a supply chain manager position RockAuto advertised online. RockAuto, who asks applicants to disclose their college graduation years, refused to hire McKewen, despite his 15 years of relevant experience. Instead, it hired a 32-year-old candidate and a 22-year-old candidate around the same time. One interviewer praised the 20-something applicant for being “young in her career,” which would allegedly allow her to adapt to RockAuto’s “fast pace.”

Such alleged conduct violates the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA). The EEOC sued in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin (EEOC v. RockAuto, LLC, Civil Action No. 3:18-cv-00797) after first trying to settle through its conciliation process.

The lawsuit asks the court to order RockAuto to hire McKewen or provide front pay if it cannot hire him, and provide back pay as well as liquidated damages. The lawsuit also seeks a permanent injunction prohibiting RockAuto from discriminating against future candidates based on their age.

Julianne Bowman, district director of the EEOC’s Chicago District, said, “The ADEA is there because workers over 40 can contribute to our national economy and do so every day. This law prohibits employers from depriving a candidate of an equal opportunity to contribute because of their age, and the EEOC will keep diligently enforcing it.”