Contractor Under Fire for Age Discrimination and Retaliation

The EEOC alleges that a company discriminated against its employees by firing them when they reached the age of 62 and retaliated against another worker for resisting.

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EEOC vs. Stack Brothers Mechanical Contractors, Inc.

Randy Virta and Karen Kolodzeske, employees of Stack Brothers Mechanical Contractors, Inc. worked at the company for 16 and 25 years, respectively. According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), Stack Brothers violated federal law by firing Virta and Kolodzeske when they reached the age of 62. The charge maintains Virta and Kolodzeske warned the company several times that their actions were illegal, but the owner ignored them. After Virta was fired, the company denied Kolodzeske a promised pay increase, demoted her, reduced her hours, and ultimately fired her once she reached 62, which is a violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA).

The EEOC charged Stack Brothers with unlawful employment practices on the basis of age and retaliation. They are requesting that Stack Brothers pay Virta and Kolodzeske back wages (including benefits); punitive damages for pain, suffering, inconvenience, and humiliation; reinstatement; and front pay (including benefits). They also request an order barring the company from practicing future discrimination and retaliation against employees.

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act

The ADEA prohibits employment discrimination against individuals who are 40 years old or older. The law forbids discrimination when it comes to any aspect of employment, including hiring, firing, pay, job assignments, promotions, layoff, training, fringe benefits, and any other term or condition of employment.

It is also unlawful to retaliate against an individual for opposing employment practices that discriminate based on age or for filing an age discrimination charge, testifying or participating in any way in an investigation, proceeding or litigation under the ADEA.

The Role of the EEOC

The ADEA is enforced by the EEOC.

The EEOC “is responsible for enforcing federal laws that make it illegal to discriminate against a job applicant or an employee because of the person’s race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information.”

They describe their role as having:

“…the authority to investigate charges of discrimination against employers who are covered by the law. Our role in an investigation is to fairly and accurately assess the allegations in the charge and then make a finding. If we find that discrimination has occurred, we will try to settle the charge. If we aren’t successful, we have the authority to file a lawsuit to protect the rights of individuals and the interests of the public.”

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