73-Year-Old Denied Position Because of Age, Federal Agency Charged
COLUMBIA, S.C. – A disability services provider will pay $80,000 and furnish other relief to settle an age discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today. The EEOC had charged that CHESCO Services, formerly known as Chesterfield County Board of Disabilities and Special Needs, unlawfully refused to hire a 73-year-old man for a position because of his age.
CHESCO Services, a non-profit organization that is approved by the South Carolina Department of Disabilities and Special Needs (DDSN) to provide services to DDSN consumers, provides services to people in Chesterfield, Marlboro, Kershaw, Richland, and Darlington counties.
According to the EEOC’s complaint, when CHESCO Services assumed operation of a residential care facility where Larry O. Knight was employed in early 2007, it consolidated Knight’s position with that of a position held by a 43-year-old co-worker. The EEOC said that although Knight was well qualified for the newly formed position, CHESCO Services rejected him in favor of the less qualified 43-year old co-worker. Knight was age 73 at the time.
Such alleged conduct violates the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA). The EEOC filed suit after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement.
In addition to monetary damages of $80,000 for Knight, the 30-month consent decree resolving the case (EEOC v. CHESCO Services f/k/a Chesterfield County Board of Disabilities and Special Needs, Civil Action No. 3:09cv00181, filed in U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina) includes injunctive relief enjoining the company from engaging in further age discrimination or retaliation against those who complain about it; requires the posting of a notice about the settlement; and requires the company to report information about its hiring practices to the EEOC for monitoring.
“We are pleased that EEOC was able to resolve this case of age discrimination,” said Lynette A. Barnes, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Charlotte District Office which includes a portion of South Carolina. “Too often age bias is a motivating factor in hiring decisions, and employers simply write off older applicants. This case reminds employers that all people, regardless of age, deserve fairness and freedom from discrimination in the workplace. The EEOC will vigorously pursue claims of age discrimination.”
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.
The South Carolina Human Affairs Commission (SCHAC) originally investigated Knight’s charge. The SCHAC works with the EEOC in investigating charges of employment discrimination. These charges raise claims under South Carolina law as well as federal laws enforced by the EEOC. Further information about SCHAC is available on its web site at www.state.sc.us/schac.