Is this age discrimination in compensation and eventual lay off?

My dad was layed off due to the company cutting its expenses as a result of the company's poor results. He worked for a publishing company and is the only resource that does graphic arts in the company. He had over 25 years with the company and was 2 years away from normal retirement age. He also works in the same state as I do. I have two questions:

1. He has not received a pay increase over the last 5 years due to what they told him was the company's continued poor results. Is this discrimination if others in the company received pay increases?

2. He is being asked to sign a waiver to not sue for age discrimination, before receiving his severence package. If he signs this, and then the company hires someone else to do his job (who is younger and is paid less), does he have any recourse?

1 answer  |  asked Nov 13, 2001 9:35 PM [EST]  |  applies to Illinois

Answers (1)

Aaron Maduff
No pay increase due to poor results

The question of discrimination is one of motive. If others are getting pay increases when your father is not, that may be age discrimination if the reason they are doing it is because of his age. The fact that others get pay increases does tend to belie the company's claim that the lack of a raise is the result of poor results (I am assuming we are talking about profits here, not your father's performance). However, you would need to show that everyone who is younger than he did get raises.
As for the severance package, a general release is common. If he signs the release and is replaced by someone younger, there may have been a valid age discrimination claim but he will have waived it. While he cannot waive his right to sue for future injuries, the fact that the company hires someone younger would only be evidence of age discrimination. The discriminatory act would have been his termination. Thus this would be waived by the severance agreement.
Usually, we will have someone fax us the severance agreement and we will review it prior to meeting with him or her. Then we can review what the severance agreement waives, and what possible claims the client might have. Then the client is in a better position to decide whether to take the severance package or pursue some form of suit.

posted by Aaron Maduff  |  Nov 13, 2001 11:15 PM [EST]

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