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Age Discrimination: Litigation Avoidance

Issue

In an age discrimination suit resulting from an employment termination, how did the terminated employee and her employer come to a resolution regarding the defenses and charges between them?

What Happened?

The plaintiff, a 56-year-old female, had worked for a reputable restaurant for more than 15 years.  The restaurant maintained a very friendly environment among customers and staff, and had a total workforce of 50 employees whose average age (excluding the plaintiff) was 28 to 30.  The restaurant terminated the plaintiff’s employment, claiming that during the previous year the plaintiff had complained to customers about her arthritic knee and her son’s wife, and further alleging that she was argumentative with management when they approached her with criticisms and directions with which she did not agree.  The plaintiff claimed to have been fired because of her age; she believed she was a valuable, contributing member of the organization with stellar attendance (she was routinely asked to take the late shift because other younger employees “liked to party”), and although she had cash receipt errors, she had fewer errors than her co-workers.

Special Considerations

  • Employee morale was an issue for the restaurant; all of the other employees were devastated when they learned that the plaintiff was terminated; she had trained ¾ of them, and they referred to her as “Mom,” and “Old School” at work.
  • Neither party was interested in a long, drawn out court battle, yet remained adamant in their respective positions.

How did PREMi help?

After contacting PREMi to assist them in selecting an experience resolution expert, both the terminated employee and a restaurant representative met with the mediator who then:

  • Provided them with the opportunity to state their respective positions and the reasons supporting their viewpoints
  • Asked neutral and open-ended questions to help flush out their perspectives and to identify the issues that needed to be resolved
  • Identified the relevant issues and skillfully managed the dialogue between the parties to achieve a resolution
  • Led the parties in a brainstorming session of potential options and discussing the potential for each alternative

What was the Outcome?

After a four-hour conference, the PREMi mediator helped the parties to achieve a resolution that each side could accept. A final written agreement was drafted and signed, and no court filings were necessary.

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Disclaimer: This summary is illustrative of the types of cases and the manner in which the PREMI associate dealt with the matter. Care has been taken to avoid disclosure of sensitive or confidential information.