Being fired because of discrimination is always appalling, but for those who’ve loyally served an organization for years only to be wrongfully terminated just as they near retirement, it can mean a major financial setback, as well. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, when older workers are able to find new work at all, they typically end up earning 20 percent less than before.
Unfortunately, age discrimination claims are rising. In 2006, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission received 16,548 age discrimination claims; last year there were 22,857.
Four long-term administrators at Rutgers University were fired last year, and the New York Times recently reported on their age discrimination claims. Their story is disquieting enough, but particularly as this is the third time high-ranking Rutgers officials have been accused of abuse or discrimination in just over a year.
A blog post is too short to examine the full details of the administrators’ claims, and we encourage you to read the Times piece at the source link below. The story focuses on a 22-year-veteran career services director, now 63, who believes he was pushed out when the department was “reorganized” in 2012. Three others in the department, age 60 and 64, and 58, also lost their jobs.
The now-former director had been considered a national leader in his field. He won a Fulbright grant in 2005, the very first year it was offered for career services. His annual reviews were uniformly positive between 1990 and 2011; one described his work as “conducted at the highest possible level!”
In 2012, a new executive was brought in. That year, the director’s performance review said he had failed to achieve department standards in every single category. Six months later, he and the other four were fired, either without cause or on a thin pretext.
The four fired workers, one who had 40 years’ tenure at Rutgers, were ignominiously dismissed without recognition or celebration. None has been able to find full-time work.
A group of older workers being fired or laid off at the same time is a classic sign of wrongful termination due to age discrimination. Another is a history of positive performance reviews followed by unexpectedly negative ones just before the termination. If you suspect your job loss was the result of age discrimination, seriously consider discussing your situation with a lawyer. You owe it to yourself to find out the truth.
Source: The New York Times, “Pushed Out of a Job Early,” Michael Winerip, Dec. 6, 2013