The EEOC continues its efforts to combat age discrimination in a case out of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas. Allegedly, Gregg Orr Auto Collection, Inc. violated federal law when it fired a 65-year-old employee, a longtime senior manager, to avoid paying for his healthcare costs after a bout with cancer. Then, the auto company replaced the manager with a younger worker. The EEOC also alleges that Gregg Orr Auto violated Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) for firing the employee.
What EEOC v. Gregg Orr Auto Collection, Inc. is all about….
According to the lawsuit, Gregg Orr Auto, which bills itself “Family owned family first” on its website, fired the manager in 2020 without prior warning. Weeks before, the man had received billing statements for his cancer treatments the previous year. Gregg Orr Auto supplies a self-insured health plan to its employees, which means it is directly responsible for any medical expenses.
The EEOC maintains that the company fired the employee because it did not want to pay for continuing healthcare costs associated with the age of the employee, which directly violates the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) that protects workers over the age of 40. Disability laws also prohibit discrimination against employees with medical conditions that last longer than 6 months and limit a major life activity.
Avoid Age Discrimination
The EEOC reports that they were unable to reach a settlement prior to filing the lawsuit. The government agency is asking for monetary relief in the form of back pay and punitive damages, as well as injunctive relief that prevents the company from discriminating in the future. Although the lawsuit is pending, it could be a costly decision for Gregg Orr Auto.
Using age to push out a qualified worker goes against the ADEA. Employers are expected to provide reasonable accommodations for employees with disabilities to provide the employees with access to employment.