City Rejected Older Applicant for Less-Qualified Younger One, Federal Agency Says
DES MOINES – The City of Boone, Iowa violated federal law by hiring a 25-year-old rather than a more qualified 62-year-old because of the latter’s age, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed today.
The agency’s administrative investigation which preceded the lawsuit revealed that in 2005 the city rejected a U.S. Navy veteran, Larry Cook, for the new position of municipal infractions officer despite his extensive construction, electronic, communications and management experience. Instead, the EEOC said, the city chose the youngest candidate, a 25-year-old with little relevant experience.
Such alleged conduct violates the Age Discrimination in Employment Act. The EEOC filed suit after first attempting to reach a voluntary pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The agency seeks back pay and liquidated damages for Cook as well as an order barring future discrimination. The suit, captioned EEOC v. City of Boone, Iowa (Civil Action No.04:10-cv-00233), was filed in federal district court in Des Moines and assigned to U.S. District Judge Robert W. Pratt.
“Older workers, who have given so much to our American economy, don’t lose the right to earn a living because of their age,” said EEOC Chicago District Director John Rowe, who supervised the agency’s investigation. “Employers need to know that the federal government will enforce our national policy against age discrimination.”
EEOC Chicago Regional Attorney John Hendrickson noted, “Age discrimination claims have risen sharply during these difficult economic times. More than ever, it is important for the EEOC to protect older workers and to shatter the myth that younger always means better.”
The City of Boone, which is about 15 miles west of Ames and 30 miles northwest of Des Moines, had a population of 12,614 as of 2008.
The EEOC Chicago District Office is responsible for processing charges of discrimination, administrative enforcement, and the conduct of agency litigation in Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, and North and South Dakota, with Area Offices in Milwaukee and Minneapolis.
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting discrimination in employment. Further information about the Commission is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.