Worker’s Age-Based Harassment Suit Reinstated

A federal appeals court has reinstated an age discrimination lawsuit filed by a worker who was the alleged victim of a “relentless and ruthless” age-based harassment campaign, in a divided opinion. 

The employee, who installed wiring in cargo trailers for more than 10 years, claims to have faced more than 1,000 age-based insults from co-workers, as well as actions including having his tool cabinet taped or glued shut, and his workstation defaced, according to Friday’s ruling by the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago.

After efforts to have management adequately address the situation were unsuccessful, he resigned from his job in August 2018 at age 62, and filed suit against the company in U.S. District Court in South Bend, Indiana, charging violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act.  

The district court granted the company’s motion for summary judgment, concluding the worker could not show his working conditions were so intolerable that “a reasonable person could have been compelled to resign.” 

The ruling was overturned by the appeals court in a 2-1 ruling. The majority opinion said the former employee is proceeding under the theory of “constructive discharge,” that the company “effectively fired him by subjecting him to unbearable age-based discrimination.”