When an employee is terminated at the same time that her department is eliminated, an employee may still have a viable discrimination case. In these instances, it is important to carefully scrutinize how similar situated employees are treated and determine if the employer is hiring in other departments where the employee is qualified to work.
In Cline v. GAI Consultants, Inc., 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 132857 (W. D. Pa. September 17, 2013), the court found that even though the Plaintiff employee’s department was eliminated, the employee could still proceed with an age discrimination case. In Cline, a 62-year-old employee, who was employed by Defendant GAI for 19 years was advised her employment was terminated because her department was eliminated as part of an effort to reduce overhead expenses. At the time of the termination only Plaintiff and two other employees, a 61 and 54-year-old employee were terminated and all of the other department employees, each of whom was at least 20 years younger than Plaintiff, were moved to other departments. At the same time the employer was on the verge of a significant expansion of operations creating numerous administrative/clerical positions, none of which were offered to Plaintiff. Further, only a few days after the Plaintiff was terminated; the employer hired a 27-year-old administrative assistant to perform clerical/administrative work which Plaintiff was capable of performing.
In denying Defendant’s Motion for Summary Judgment, the court found that the Plaintiff employee presented a typical employment discrimination claim as she was unlawfully terminated from her job because of her age where the placement of much younger colleagues in her department in other departments within the organization occurred and only three older employees, herself being one, were not reassigned. The court found that Plaintiff’s evidence adequately supports her claim that she was discriminated against on the basis of her age when she was terminated without being offered similar, available administrative/clerical positions that were available elsewhere in the company in her geographic area. Further, the court found that a Plaintiff does not have to shoot down a Defendant’s business strategy and judgment in deciding to eliminate a department in order to support an age discrimination claim; what she has to do, and what she did – is to offer sufficient evidence to support her claim that she was discriminated against on the basis of age. Thus, the court found that the Plaintiff meets and exceeds the quantum of proof necessary to overcome Defendant’s motion for summary judgment and proceed to trial with her age discrimination claim.
For more information on age discrimination and Abramson Employment Law see http://www.job-discrimination.com/lawyer-attorney-1126515.html.