Employee Was Singled Out for Firing Based on Age, Federal Agency Charged
GREEN BAY, Wis. - A federal judge in Green Bay has entered a consent decree resolving an age discrimination lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) against Computer Systems LLC, of Shawano, Wis.
According to the EEOC's suit, Computer Systems chose Sharon Passon (age 60) as the billing specialist whose job would be eliminated in an April 2010 reduction-in-force and instead retained a younger (age 34) and less qualified billing specialist. Passon had worked at Computer Systems for 38 years before being fired.
Selecting an employee for termination based on her age violates the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA). The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.
The consent decree settling the suit (EEOC v. Computer Systems LLC, No. 2:11-cv-1178), entered on Friday, October 26, 2012 by U.S. District Judge William C. Griesbach, provides that Computer Systems will pay Sharon Passon $32,500 and prohibits future discrimination. Also, if the company, which was sold in November 2010, resumes operations, it will be required to train its managers and supervisors regarding an employer's obligations and the rights of employees under the ADEA.
"In recent years, the economic slowdown has led some companies to base employment decisions on an individual's age," said John C. Hendrickson, regional attorney of the EEOC's Chicago District Office, which is responsible for EEOC litigation in Wisconsin, Illinois, Minnesota, Iowa, North Dakota and South Dakota. "Sometimes we need to reinforce, through litigation, the message that older individuals are productive workers and should be rewarded for their loyalty and hard work. We appreciate Computer Systems' willingness to provide relief for Ms. Passon and to ensure that discrimination does not recur."
Computer Systems LLC formerly engaged in retail billing, operational support, and accounting software and data processing services for telecommunications companies. In November 2010, Computer Systems sold its assets and operations, but not its liabilities, to National Information Solutions Cooperative (NISC) of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Lake Saint Louis, Mo., Mandan, N.D. and Shawano, Wis. NISC has no responsibility for Computer Systems' decision to terminate Passon's employment.
The EEOC's litigation efforts were led by Senior Trial Attorney Dennis R. McBride of its Milwaukee Area Office and Associate Regional Attorney Jean Kamp of its Chicago District Office.
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting discrimination in employment. Further information about the Commission is available on its website at www.eeoc.gov.