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The Case of the Forced Retirement

Does a retiree have grounds for age discrimination?

Drawing of a confidential agreement occurring behind closed doors. Robert Hale v. APUSA age discrimination lawsuit.

APUSA settled the case with Hale. — Illustration by Michael Hirshon

The verdict

Hale brought his case before the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. APUSA asked the court to dismiss the case before trial, through an action called summary judgment, arguing that Hale had not shown the basic evidence needed for an age discrimination case.

In examining the evidence, the court had to decide whether there were disputes over issues of fact that would require a jury. Looking at Santner's statements about Hale's age, the court found that whether or not Santner's remarks were general and innocuous, or evidence of discrimination, was a question for the jury. As to whether Hale would have been fired regardless of his age, the court explained that there is no age discrimination if an employer can show legitimate reasons for termination. But the court decided that APUSA's claim that Hale would have been terminated regardless of his age required a jury's deliberation.

APUSA's request for summary judgment was denied. Once the court ruled that Hale could go ahead with his lawsuit against the company, APUSA settled the case. As part of the settlement, both parties agreed to keep the details confidential.

Also of interest: Job search resources, websites for older workers. >>

Robin Gerber is a lawyer and the author of Barbie and Ruth: The Story of the World's Most Famous Doll and the Woman Who Created Her.

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