Most New Yorkers are familiar with discrimination based on race and gender in the workplace. However, one lesser known type of discrimination is age discrimination. One recent incident involving a 76-year-old worker is making the issue more visible. The man alleges that he was a victim of his employer's biased attitude toward older workers when his company let him go because of a "workforce reduction."
The 76-year-old man spent a large part of his life working for U.S. Seal Manufacturers. He started as a manager in 1962 and stayed with the company as it moved its offices from Manhattan to upstate New York and then to New Jersey. By the time he was let go, he was earning $99,000 per year and claimed to work 12 hours a day. He was never compensated for any of his overtime.
The man was even featured in the company newsletter when it commemorated his golden anniversary with the company and detailed how his contributions had greatly helped the company. The article also took note of his efforts to create the company's product catalog.
Last October, he was summoned to a meeting with his boss and handed a severance package. He was then led out of the building. According to the man, although his firing may have been portrayed as a workforce reduction, he was the only one let go. Now he is suing the company on grounds of age discrimination and seeking $700,000 to cover the unpaid overtime he rendered over the years. The company's general manager has not publicly commented on the lawsuit.
Workplace discrimination in any form is a serious violation of an employee's rights. Federal and state laws protect workers from unequal treatment in the workplace. New York employees who find themselves unlawfully singled out by employers may want to make sure they understand their legal rights, so they can determine the best possible course of action to take.
Source: New York Daily News, "Long Island man, 76, sues company for age discrimination after 'workforce reduction' of one man," John Marzulli, Feb. 13, 2014