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PRESS RELEASE
5-18-12

Advance Components Settles EEOC Age Discrimination Lawsuit

Fastener  Distribution Company Pays $201,000 to Top Salesman Who Was Fired in Favor of  Younger Hires, Agency Charged

DALLAS - A Carrollton,  Texas-based distributor of specialty fasteners with sales territories that span  the country will pay $200,000 and furnish other relief to settle an age  discrimination lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity  Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.

According  to the EEOC's lawsuit, Advance Components' executive vice president and general  manager, Gary Craven, made ageist comments to Dan Miller, a 64-year-old  national sales manager, and finally fired him because of his age. Miller had almost 20 years experience selling  the company's products and had been hired by Advance Components' founder. According to the EEOC, Craven called Miller  "old-fashioned" and repeatedly expressed his preference to hire  younger salesmen with his motto: "30-30-30. Hire a 30-year-old with an IQ of 30 and pay  him $30,000." Craven also allegedly  made comments about outside sales being a young man's game because they were  more "driven" and that he wanted to "put young guys on the  street."

Miller was  fired on Oct. 6, 2009. His position was  filled the following day by a man in his 30s.

Discriminating against an employee  because of his age violates the Age Discrimination in Employment Act  (ADEA). The EEOC filed suit (Civil  Action No. 3-11-cv-2081-B in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of  Texas, Dallas Division) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement  through its conciliation process. 

In the  consent decree settling the suit, signed by Judge Jane J. Boyle on May 18, 2012,  Advance Components agreed to pay $201,000 to Dan Miller. The company will also train management  (including the owners) and supervisory personnel on equal employment  opportunity (EEO) policies and procedures, including those on age  discrimination. The company will be  required to enforce a written policy against age discrimination and  retaliation.

"Older  workers have the right to be evaluated based on their abilities and not based  on their age," said EEOC Senior Trial Attorney William C. Backhaus. "Every employer, large and small, needs  to recognize the importance of avoiding stereotypes, including those about age  and older workers. Advance Components  wrongly assumed that Mr. Miller's age, 64, interfered   with his ability to connect with customers. It didn't - we learned that he was their top  producer and that customers loved him."

Mr. Miller was represented by  attorney Rogge Dunn. Dunn said  "Employer's replacement of senior employees with younger employees who are  less qualified often leads to an employer being legally liable for substantial  damages." "Employers should do  their homework before hiring replacements because these types of actions catch  the attention of attorneys and the EEOC."

EEOC Regional Attorney Robert A.  Canino added, "Success in sales is not something we would expect to be  adversely affected by a greater degree of experience. Broad-brush assumptions that a 30-something  is going to be more effective with marketing skills than a 60-something are  arbitrary and misplaced suppositions that can lead to a violation of the law. If this '30-30-30' theory was at play in the  decision to discharge Mr. Miller, we hope the message here is that a rule of  thumb like that just doesn't add up to a good business practice."

Im always  pleased when the Dallas District can partner with local counsel and achieve an  outstanding result, said Acting District Director Janet Elizondo. The  Commission continues to be an active part of enforcement and litigation here in  the Northern District of Texas.

The  EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment  discrimination. Further information  about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.