- A 54-year-old employee allegedly fired for asking out a 21-year-old woman can take his age bias claim to trial, a federal district court has determined (Granet v. Presidio, Inc., No. 3:19-cv-821 (E.D. Pa., Oct. 20, 2020)).
- In defending the suit, the employer, Presidio Inc., offered detailed evidence of the former employee's "unprofessionalism and poor performance," the court said. But, the "last straw," according to the court, was when he asked out a 21-year-old employee of a neighboring business. The business' president complained to a Presidio VP about the employee's frequent visits and request; the VP then allegedly called the plaintiff into his office and said "why are you asking a woman much younger than yourself out to dinner?" He added: "You're probably going to lose your job." Two days later Presidio allowed the plaintiff to choose between resignation and termination.
- Those alleged comments, the court said, amounted to direct evidence of discrimination, declining to dismiss the suit. A reasonable jury could find for the plaintiff, it continued.
Statements by supervisors can serve as evidence of discrimination, numerous judicial decisions illustrate.
The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, for example, held in August that a supervisor's comments — including an observation that an employee was "getting up there in years" — were direct evidence of age discrimination. That same court the year before revived a lawsuit in which a supervisor allegedly called an employee "grandma" and "little old lady."
Managers and supervisors often say things that lead to lawsuits, employment law experts have said. Compliance training can help to avoid such litigation: Discussing the Family and Medical Leave Act at a 2018 conference, Jeff Nowak, a shareholder at Littler, and Matt Morris, VP of FMLASource at ComPsych, said courts are asking employers why managers lack training and, sometimes in those instances, awarding double damages.