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Jury awards millions for age discrimination

A recent case in California had a favorable result for four former servers who alleged that they were terminated due to their age. Often, employers use job performance issues as their defense in age discrimination suits. In this case, the servers claimed that they faced wrongful termination when new employers took over the restaurant, and that their vacated positions were filled by servers in their 20s.

The four women were aged 49 to 70, and likely had more serving experience than job candidates in their 20s. It appears that the women were alleging that a younger appearance based on physical attributes was the basis. According to news sources, the restaurant was even advertising the positions of these employees, all the while assuring them that their jobs were secure.

The jury deliberated for only two hours before unanimously awarding almost $2 million for the lost wages and emotional distress of the four women. In the second phase of the trial, the jury awarded another $4 million in punitive damages related to the malice and fraud the restaurant perpetrated after terminating the women.

According to the attorney in the case, the awards were all the more important to the plaintiffs due to the timing. They were laid off in 2010, but with the case decision coming down just in time for the holidays, these women were able to find financial relief in the special season.

Any person terminated from their position ought to step back and examine the circumstances. Age and gender discrimination in relation to wrongful termination is a serious allegation, and speaking to an attorney familiar with employment law can help to conclude if there was any wrong-doing on the part of the employer.

Source: Insurance Journal, "California Servers Awarded $5.7M In Age Discrimination Suit" No author given, Dec. 27, 2013

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