One would assume that a place with lots of lawyers and judges who deal
with the law on a daily basis would be aware of laws against discrimination,
but apparently this is not the case in the Allegheny County Court of Common
Pleas. That court, the second busiest in Pennsylvania, was hit with a
lawsuit this week by a 70 year old temporary employee who was fired in 2012.
According to the
complaint, Carolyn Pittman was sent to the court system by a staffing agency in
February 2012. After she began training, Lisa Moore, the court employee
responsible for her oversight, complained that she was too old to work
in the department and that she couldn't see well enough because she
was too old. Moore also complained to her supervisors that Pittman made
too many errors on the job, according to the complaint.
At the end of March, an unnamed supervisor at the court system told the
staffing agency that Pittman needed to be removed from her job, and Pittman
was told to contact the staffing agency.
According to the complaint, she was told that she had been terminated
because a scanning project was over. But the complaint added that the
project had not come to an end and that Pittman was replaced by at least
one much younger worker.
After learning of Pittman's age discrimination complaint, the court
system questioned certain employees about Pittman. In the course of the
interviews, they exaggerated her supposed flaws, while acting to minimize
Moore's comment that she was too old to work in the department. These
actions were allegedly part of an effort to hide the true, discriminatory
reasons for Pittman's termination, according to the complaint.
It is unlawful to harass a person because of his or her age.
Harassment can include, for example, offensive remarks about a person's
age. Although the law doesn't prohibit simple teasing, offhand comments,
or isolated incidents that aren't very serious, harassment is illegal
when it is so frequent or severe that it creates a hostile or offensive
work environment or when it results in an adverse employment decision
(such as the victim being fired or demoted).
The harasser can be the victim's supervisor, a supervisor in another
area, a co-worker, or someone who is not an employee of the employer,
such as a client or customer.
If you would like to learn more about age discrimination in the tech industry,
be sure to register an online seminar to be given by two of our attorneys,
Davida Perry and Brian Heller.
Ageism in Employment: A High-Tech Trend?
Thursday, July 24
11:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m. ET