Posts tagged Age Discrimination.

How can I sue thee? Let me count the ways.

Not sure I'm buying it.

I can't imagine why they would.

Another chapter in a continuing saga.

An argument can be made.

An important victory for age plaintiffs.

(Not an actual letter from Mr. Kleber.

(Not an actual letter from Mr. Kleber.)

Last week, I received a scathing comment from Dale Kleber, a Chicago-area lawyer and a plaintiff in an age discrimination lawsuit. Mr. Kleber did not like my gut reaction to his lawsuit, which was based on an article that I’d read in The Washington Post. It appeared to me that Mr. Kleber — then a 58-year-old lawyer with roughly 30 years of experience, including experience as a CEO of a dairy industry trade group, Chief Legal Counsel, and General Counsel — was rejected for a low-level in-house staff attorney position because he was overqualified for the position, not because he was 58 years old.

Prompted by Mr. Kleber’s comment, I have now read the court papers (well, a lot of them, anyway).*

*Mr. Kleber’s case is currently on appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, but it is still in the very early stages. For you procedural nerds, I’ve included a summary at the end of this post. Non-nerds can skip it.

Now that I know more about Mr. Kleber’s lawsuit, I haven’t changed my mind. In other words, I still think he was rejected for being overqualified.

Can’t “overqualified” be a code word for “too old”? Yes, but not necessarily. Read on!

At a client seminar that my office presented during the very contentious 2016 campaign season, my law partner John Doyle delivered an introductory disclaimer. Although I may not have his words verbatim, I will never forget the message, which was as follows:

The only thing we’re partisan about is employers. That’s it.

It was a great way to dispel the perception that we were being politically partisan while we had to discuss the positive and negative impacts of the candidates’ proposals on employment law issues.

This morning, I got a comment from the plaintiff in an age discrimination lawsuit that I referenced last year, based on an article that had appeared in The Washington Post. Here’s what the plaintiff, Dale Kleber, said to me:

Well, Robin, I was surprised that although you have formal legal training, the article you wrote contains so many factual assumptions that simply are false. I suspect that your firm primarily represents defendant employers and your “analysis” is tainted with the bias of economic self-interest. In the near future, I expect to obtain an objective review of my case from the the Seventh Circuit. Your article, devoid as it is of even the most basic factual or legal analysis is simply an editorial masquerading as a legal newsletter. But perhaps that is what your clients want to hear.

I admit I did not think Mr. Kleber was a victim of age discrimination based on the information in the WaPo article, and I admit that I said so. Reading between the lines on his comment, it appeared to me that he had lost his case (since he was hoping to be vindicated on appeal), but I read the court filings today and it’s more complicated than that. (I’ll have a separate blog post about the merits of Mr. Kleber’s lawsuit, which I think is pretty interesting.)

As far as writing “editorials” on this blog, I plead guilty. This ain’t, after all, The New York Times.

I also admit that I and my firm represent employers, and that we are always on the employers’ side.

But what I’d really like to talk about is what it means to be “on the employers’ side,” or, as John says, “partisan” on behalf of employers.

"50? All those candles are gonna burn down the house!"

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act recently celebrated its 50th birthday (it doesn't look a day over 49). This calls for an age discrimination quiz!

Question 1: What age group is protected from age discrimination under the ADEA?

A. All age groups. Discrimination based on age is never ok, whether you are young or old.

B. Ages 40 to 70.

C. Ages 40 and up, with no upper limit.

D. Ages 40 and up, unless you are an athlete or a model, in which case it's ages 30 and up.

ANSWER: C. Some states have laws that prohibit all age discrimination -- including discrimination against the young -- but the ADEA doesn't protect people under age 40.

Question 2: Which of the following could be considered "code words" for age discrimination?

A. "We're looking for someone with a high energy level."

B. "We're looking for digital natives."

C. "You can't teach an old dog new tricks."

D. "Have you given any thought to when you want to retire?"

E. C and D.

F. All of the above.

Robin Shea has 30 years' experience in employment litigation, including Title VII and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act (including the Amendments Act). 
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