A former employee of Lockheed Martin has just prevailed in his federal age discrimination lawsuit – to the tune of $51.5 million. It’s believed to be the largest-ever age discrimination verdict for an individual plaintiff.
The 66-year-old plaintiff asserted that he was laid off five years ago for alleged staff cutbacks when in fact, his lawyers argued, the cuts were specifically instituted to slash older workers from the payrolls. The goal was to replace those older (i.e., costlier) workers and replace them with younger workers willing to work for lower salaries.
This kind of argument is based on an alleged pretextual claim. That is, the employer stated the adverse employment action (i.e., demotion, firing, lay-off, loss of benefits, refusal to hire, etc.) was due to one thing when in fact it was due to illegal discrimination. In this case, that alleged discrimination was on the grounds of the workers’ ages. The federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 prohibits age discrimination of workers over the age of 40. Continue reading