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PRESS RELEASE
9-30-10

EEOC Sues Nassau County For Firing 71-Year-Old Lifeguard

Federal Agency Alleges That Lifeguard Was Fired After Failing Swim Test While Teen Lifeguards Who Failed Were Allowed to Continue Working

NEW YORK – The Nassau County Department of Parks, Recreation and Museums violated federal law by suspending and then firing a 71-year-old lifeguard who failed a swim test, while younger lifeguards who failed the same test were allowed to continue working, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed today.

The EEOC’s lawsuit, Civil Action No. CV-10-4471, filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, alleges that Jay Lieberfarb, a lifeguard with 50 years of experience, was suspended without pay after failing a swim test. Lieberfarb later passed the first segment of his retest, but was injured and given one week to complete the second segment of the retest. Nassau County, however, fired him two days later and before he completed the retest. Younger lifeguards who failed the same swim test were not suspended, and some were permitted to continue working pending successful completion of the retest. No younger lifeguards were discharged for failing to pass the swim test.

Age discrimination violates the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967. The EEOC filed suit after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The agency seeks the reinstatement of Mr. Lieberfarb as well as monetary relief for him, the adoption of strong policies and proce­dures to remedy and prevent age discrimination, training on discrimination for the County’s managers and employees, and more.

Spencer H. Lewis, Jr., the director of the EEOC’s New York District Office, said, “Employers must remain vigilant of the law’s requirement that older workers be treated in the same manner as others.”

Robert D. Rose, supervisory trial attorney in the EEOC’s New York District Office, added, “ Nassau County’s treatment of Mr. Lieberfarb, a very experienced lifeguard, stands in stark contrast to how it treated the many younger lifeguards on staff. The EEOC seeks to undo his wrongful discharge and to obtain appropriate compensation for the wages he lost.”

The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the Commission is available on the agency's web site at www.eeoc.gov.