Top Executives Responsible for Workplace Age Discrimination, Court Rules

November 3, 2004 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - A federal judge has ruled that top executives were responsible for what their subordinates were or were not doing in a case of age discrimination claims against an equipment rental company.

US District Judge Reginald Lindsey of the US District Court of Massachusetts ruled that John Cariglia was fired based on age discriminatory comments to top executives by a superior, James Heard, the Boston Globe reported. After making disparaging claims about Cariglia’s age, the branch manager was fired despite his work turning a money-losing branch into a profitable one. Lindsey ruled that Heard had misled his superiors, and was motivated by “invidious discriminatory intent.”

Cariglia was the oldest branch manager for Hertz Equipment Rental Corp., and was assigned to theBostonin order to turn around the business. Hertz claimed that they fired Cariglia because he failed to have crane equipment painted. However, Lindsey said that Heard did not inform top executives about the reason for the failure to act, namely that the equipment was being rented and both Cariglia and Heard agreed the action could wait.

Heard then recommended that Cariglia be fired, according to the court, and he was replaced by a 30-year old worker. Lindsey, in his decision, effectively held the senior executives accountable in ruling that Cariglia was fired due to age discrimination. This strengthens the tenant that employers are responsible for what happens in the workplace, according to the Globe.

This ruling had been appealed before, and Lindsey was actually reaffirming an earlier ruling after being asked to do so by a higher court. Hertz is unclear whether or not it will appeal again.

Cariglia was awarded a total of $827,000 in the case, $657,026 of which was for lost wages and $170,000 of which was for emotional distress.

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