Stack Bros. Mechanical Contractors, a heating and plumbing contractor in northern Wisconsin and northern Minnesota, is charged in a lawsuit with violating federal law by firing two employees when they reached age 62 and by retaliating against one of those employees for resisting the company’s plan to discriminate against her.
The lawsuit has been filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The agency’s investigation revealed Randy Virta and Karen Kolodzeske repeatedly warned the company’s owner that his plan to fire them when they turned 62 was illegal. However, the owner followed through with his plans, firing both employees and retaliating against Kolodzeske for her complaints, first by denying her a raise and then by demoting her and cutting her hours and pay.
The lawsuit accuses Stack Bros. of violating the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), which prohibits employers from taking adverse actions against employees and job applicants on the basis of age. The agency is seeking back pay, reinstatement, front pay, and liquidated damages for both Virta and Kolodzeske, an order barring future discrimination and retaliation, and other relief. Virta and Kolodzeske had worked for Stack Bros. for 16 and 25 years, respectively.
“The conduct in this case was utterly unacceptable,” says Julianne Bowman, acting director of the EEOC’s Chicago District. “The experience, expertise and wisdom of older workers are essential to our nation’s ability to compete in the global economy and the ability of those workers to continue to be employed without discrimination is critical to their economic well-being and quality of life. When age discrimination invades the workplace, everybody loses. “
The suit, EEOC v. Stack Bros. Mechanical Contractors, Inc., was filed in U.S. District court for the Western District of Wisconsin.