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A Houston manufacturer violated federal law by enforcing its mandatory retirement policy which required the discharge of employees when they reach age 70, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed on November 30.
According to the EEOC’s lawsuit (Civil Action No. 4:10-cv-04783) in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, Houston Division), Metallic Products had an unlawful mandatory retirement policy which required an employee to retire at the age of 70. The complaint alleges that, under the policy, Jeronimo Vidals was told there would be no work for him after he turned 70, and he was discharged on his 70th birthday.
According to R.J. Ruff Jr., district director of the EEOC's Houston District Office, "Individuals who want to work past an employer’s presumed retirement age are particularly vulnerable to employment practices designed to remove older workers from the workforce. Employers have a responsibility to provide everyone the freedom to compete fairly in the workplace regardless of age."
Such policies violate the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA). With rare exception, an employer may not force its employees to retire at any particular age. The EEOC filed the lawsuit after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement. In the suit, the EEOC is seeking a permanent injunction prohibiting the company from engaging in employment discrimination, as well as back pay, liquidated damages and other relief for Vidals.
“The EEOC will aggressively prosecute all ADEA violations against employers who deny the rights and privileges of gainful employment to qualified, older individuals,” said EEOC regional attorney Jim Sacher.
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Anyone who believes he or she has been subjected to a discriminatory employment practice is encouraged to contact the EEOC's Houston District Office, which is located in downtown Houston on the sixth floor of the Mickey Leland Federal Building at 1919 Smith Street. Further information about the EEOC is available on the agency's Web site at www.eeoc.gov.