Federal R&D center settles age discrimination lawsuit with EEOC

| Aug 28, 2020 | Employee Discrimination

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission unquestionably has one of the broadest mandates of any federal agency. We underscore that at the Devadoss Law Firm, noting on the website of our national employment law offices that the EEOC “oversees equal employment in the federal workplace.”

That is a gargantuan-sized task, given the sheer sprawl of the United States government. Among other things, the commission handles discrimination, retaliation and harassment claims addressed across a wide range of federal legislation. Laws that are recurrently spotlighted in EEOC proceedings include the seminal Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act.

That last-cited statutory enactment (the ADEA) prominently featured in an age-linked dispute that the EEOC recently settled with federal research and development center Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Pasadena-based JPL was targeted by the commission in a federal lawsuit alleging multiple violations of the ADEA against its over-40 workforce.

The high-tech R&D entity was specifically alleged to have committed these unlawful acts:

  • Systematically terminating workers older than 40 for the purpose of retaining and expanding its younger workforce; and
  • Promoting less experienced younger employees at the expense of older workers

JPL paid for that in terms spelled out in a settlement pact it reached with the EEOC last month. Monetary sanctions were sizable, with the center being slapped with a $10 million fine. Injunctive relief also featured, with JPL agreeing to implement numerous new policies aimed at spotlighting and promoting company diversity.

The EEOC is commending JPL for its promised efforts to foster a diverse work culture and urges other federal employers to review hiring/retention practices “to ensure they are in compliance with federal law.”

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