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Age Discrimination in the Court System?

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? http://westlegaledcenter.com/program_guide/course_detail.jsf?videoCourseId=100026571&ADMIN_PREVIEW=true

Thursday, July 24 th

11:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m. ET

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