A Southfield, Mich.-based oral surgery practice will pay $47,000 to settle an age discrimination lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced recently.
The EEOC’s lawsuit charged that Professional Endodontics, P.C. violated federal law by firing Karen Ruerat four days after her 65th birthday. According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, Ruerat, who had worked for the company for 37 years, was terminated in January 2016 pursuant to a company policy that required employees to retire at age 65.
This alleged conduct violates the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), which protects individuals who are 40 years of age or older from employment discrimination based on age. The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. Professional Endodontics, P.C., Case No. 4:17-cv-13466) in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.
The consent decree settling the suit, in addition to providing for the award of monetary relief to Ruerat, prohibits any similar discrimination in the future and requires Professional Endodontics to provide anti-discrimination training to its employees. The training will include instruction on the practices made unlawful under the ADEA.
“December 2017 marked the 50th anniversary of the ADEA,” said Kenneth Bird, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Indianapolis District Office. “Five decades later, the EEOC remains committed to vigorously enforcing that all-important law. Private employers need to understand that mandatory retirement policies run afoul of the ADEA and will be met with challenge.”
The ADEA declares it unlawful for any employer “to fail or refuse to hire or to discharge any individual or otherwise discriminate against any individual with respect to his compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of such individual’s age….”
The Detroit Field Office is part of the Indianapolis District Office, which oversees Michigan, Indiana, Kentucky and parts of Ohio.