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Woman files discrimination lawsuit against NYC deputy mayor

Most Americans, New Yorkers included, consider the experience of being terminated from a job as one of the worst things that can happen in life, especially when someone has been in the workforce for decades. With the job market tight and competition high, a lost job can be financially challenging, especially for workers age 60 and older.

Under federal employment law, terminating an employee because of his or her age is illegal. Unfortunately, this is what a 61-year-old woman says happened to her when she was let go by her boss in July 2013 after 26 years working for a children's advocacy organization.

Patricia Grayson, now 61, alleges in a wrongful termination lawsuit filed against Richard Buery Jr. that the former Children's Aid CEO wrongfully terminated her from her job as a fundraiser because of her age despite two decades of exemplary performance and success on behalf of the nonprofit organization, including a more than 30-percent increase in fund-raising from 2010 to 2012.

Although Buery claims Grayson's firing was based on a performance evaluation from several trustees, she learned that five other employees ages 49 to 71 were also fired.

Buery also allegedly told Grayson and other staffers that Children's Aid should hire people in their 20s who had worked at another nonprofit.

Buery was recently appointed as a deputy mayor of New York City.

Grayson's lawsuit is seeking back pay and an undisclosed amount of damages. Her old position apparently has not yet been filled.

Age discrimination is one of the biggest problems older employees face despite protection under the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act. Employers who discriminate against workers ages 40 and older in hiring, promotion and termination are in violation of this federal law. For this reason, an age discrimination firing could mean legal trouble for an employer.

Source: New York Post, "Woman sues after being fired for being 'too old'," Rich Calder, April 16, 2014

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