Tramp v. Associated Underwriters, Inc.: On Age Discrimination Employment Termination

Tramp v. Associated Underwriters, Inc., an appeal heard in the United States Court of Appeals for the Eight Circuit, involved claims of wrongful termination due to age discrimination.

hands-833820-mEmployer hired worker in 2000. Seven years later, employer was operating at a loss. Due to economic issues, employer underwent a reduction-in-force (RIF) and terminated seven of its employees. The workers terminated were chosen based upon the quality of their work. According to court records, employee retained her job, but the company president was still concerned about the quality of her work.

The following year, things had not gotten better, and the office manager suggested the company terminate the firm’s health insurance plan. The president did not agree. However, the insurance plan premiums greatly increased and employer sought quotes from competitors. The company provided demographic information on the employees when submitting applications for quotes.

One of the quotes was lower than all others and employer learned that it was because the names of employee and another worker who were both over the age of 65 had been accidentally omitted from the application. When the quote was adjusted, it was much higher.

Emails documented that employer told the various insurance companies that two of their older and sicker employees had left the company and obtained similar lower quotes. It is alleged that employer offered to cover a 100 percent Medicare subsidy and claimed it would cost them less than the premium they are required to pay. Both employees declined to leave the company policy.

Following this meeting, employer issued a reprimand to employee for poor work performance. The following year, employer underwent another RIF and terminated four employees, including the one at the center of the instant case. The other employees were ages 78, 38, and 39. After this point, employer received a renewal quote from their insurance company and that was 25 percent higher than it was the prior year.

Employer send an email stating that their oldest employees had left the company and said they would have to shop for a new carrier if the rates did not go back down.

Meanwhile, employee filed a claim that she was being discriminated upon based her age, disability, and sex.

As our age discrimination attorneys in Orange County can explain, in California, it is a violation of fundamental public policy to discriminate based upon race, color, national origin, religion, or sex.

In Tramp, employee claimed she qualified under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA). The District Court granted employer’s motion for summary judgment on grounds that employee did not qualify for protection under the ADEA. Employee appealed the decision.

On appeal, the court looked at the issue of whether ADEA applied to employee’s claims. The court looked at the facts most favorable to employee. The court found that there was no evidence to support this claim, but that the court had erred in granting employer’s motion for summary judgment with respect to employee’s age discrimination claims.

The case was remanded for further proceedings consistent with their opinion. This means  a jury will have a chance to make a determination if she was terminated due to her age.

Costa Mesa employment lawsuits can be filed with assistance from the Nassiri Law Group, practicing in Los Angeles, Riverside, and Orange County. Call 714-937-2020.

Additional Resources:

Tramp v. Associated Underwriters, Inc.:, October 10, 2014, United States Court of Appeals for the Eight Circuit

More Blog Entries:

Bigger Judgments in Employee Bias Related Lawsuits, December 26, 2013, Los Angeles Employment Lawyer Blog