Electrical Contractor Pays $500K to Settle Age Discrimination

Electrical Contractor Pays $500K to Settle Age Discrimination Action

An age-discrimination lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) against a large electrical contracting company has concluded with a settlement of $500,000 paid to the victims. According to the complaint, Hatzel & Buehler, Inc. systematically favored younger applicants when hiring project managers and estimators at their New Jersey location.  

In the lawsuit, the EEOC alleged that the company vice president with hiring authority for that branch told an outside recruiter only to send him information on candidates within a given age range. Moreover, the EEOC’s claim also states that the vice president violated federal law by failing to maintain records relating job applicants and individuals who were hired.

Under the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), refusal to hire someone because they are 40 or older is prohibited. The EEOC's legal action against Hatzel & Buehler demonstrates that employers can be held accountable for bias against older workers. This type of discrimination takes many forms, including:

  • Reassignment of duties — In many instances, employers seek to move longtime workers off the payroll because their salaries are higher than what would be paid to an inexperienced newcomer in the same position. When management realizes that firing a capable employee would be an obvious sign of unlawful discrimination, they sometimes reassign them to a new role with drastically different duties. Even if the individual quits due to the change, that could be considered a constructive dismissal for the purposes of an age discrimination claim. 

  • Improper hiring practices — Age-related bias is so prevalent, that many job seekers remove references to their graduation date or relevant experience that occurred more than a decade earlier from their resumes. Don’t hesitate to reach out to an employment lawyer if you suspect that your age is the reason you didn’t get a job you were qualified for. 

  • Hostile work environments — For some unfortunate reason, cruel jokes about someone’s age seem to be more accepted in the workplace than other types of insults based on legally protected personal characteristics. If you’ve been repeatedly called “old-timer” or mocked for your supposed lack of technical awareness, you might be able to obtain legal relief if the mistreatment is severe or pervasive. 

At Kardell Law Group, we help older employees understand their rights under the ADEA and other anti-discrimination laws so they can make informed decisions about how to proceed if they’ve been victimized by bias. If a potential claim exists, we will fight for an appropriate resolution.