Police Department Settles Age Bias Suit

The police department was sued by the EEOC in 2013 for passing over a job candidate who was 45 at the time.

The County of Maui, Hawaii, will pay $24,000 and provide other relief to settle an age discrimination lawsuit filed against the Maui County Police Department by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

In a lawsuit filed in 2013, the EEOC alleged that the County of Maui violated the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) when it refused to hire a qualified candidate as a police officer due to his age.

Lars Sandstrom applied for the position of police officer in 2009, met all of the minimum qualifications for the position and passed the qualifying written exam, according to the suit. Sandstrom also had a bachelor’s degree, as well as extensive military and life experience, which qualified him for the position.

The EEOC contends that during the job interview, assumptions were made about Sandstrom’s abilities given his age, which was 45 at the time of the alleged discrimination. This included the comment, “I doubt someone your age could handle the stress of training,” case documents show.

The EEOC investigation found that other, younger, less-qualified candidates were hired as police officers during the time in question.

The settlement requires a complaint process and impartial investigations, together with a centralized tracking system for discrimination complaints and provisions holding employees accountable for discrimination. Annual training about age-based discrimination and retaliation will be provided for all employees, especially those involved in human resources and at the supervisory level, to educate them about their rights and responsibilities regarding age discrimination, with the goal of preventing and deterring any discriminatory practices in the future.

Sandstrom was able to secure employment as a police officer with another police department.