An engineer’s age discrimination lawsuit against his former employer recently resulted in a large jury verdict in his favor. The jury found that the employer engaged in age discrimination in violation of federal law and the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination. After finding the employer liable, the jury awarded the laid-off engineer more than $51 million in damages, according to reports by the Courier Post.
The plaintiff in the case was an engineer at a major aerospace and defense company’s Moorestown facility. He’d been an employee of the company since 1995. After 17 years, the company laid him off as part of what the employer described as a “reduction in force.” The employee, however, saw things differently. He alleged that he was the only one in his group of seven employees to be terminated. He was 66; everyone else in the group was 10 years younger or more. At the same time, while the employer was carrying out these layoffs, it was also hiring new workers.
The engineer sued for age discrimination. The employer, he alleged, had a system of discriminating against older employees, whom it desired to force from the workforce to clear out what the employer believed was a glut of older workers. The reductions in force that the employer implemented were designed to eliminate older workers so that the employer could replace them with younger ones, the engineer asserted.
In a discrimination case like this, the law requires the employee to put forward a viable claim of discrimination. This engineer did that by asserting that he was part of a protected class (age) and suffered an adverse action on the job (termination) that was a result of his membership in that protected class.
Once the employee makes this showing, the employer must prove that it took its action for legitimate, non-discriminatory reasons. The employer in this case attempted to persuade the jury that it terminated the engineer as part of an ordinary round of layoffs and that the plaintiff was a candidate for layoff because of his track record of sub-par performance reviews.
At that point, the burden shifts back to the employee to show that the employer’s stated non-discriminatory reasoning was just a pretext for illegal discrimination. The employee disputed the claim about his performance, asserting that his performance evaluations were generally average except one poor one in 2011. Additionally, the employee alleged that the employer had a practice of lowering the performance scores of older workers and raising the scores of younger employees.
At the trial’s end, the jury sided with the plaintiff. The jury awarded him more than $1.5 million in economic damages and pain and suffering. On top of that amount, moreover, the jury added a punitive damages award in this case, in the amount of $50 million.
Not every discrimination case will be a $50 million discrimination case. But every discrimination case is equally important to the worker who has been wronged by an employer’s misconduct. The New Jersey age discrimination attorneys at Phillips & Associates understand that the most important case we handle is your case. Our attorneys have many years of experience helping employees who’ve suffered from discrimination seek justice. Contact us online or at (212) 248-7431 today to set up a free and confidential consultation with one of our skilled and experienced attorneys.
More blog posts:
New Jersey State Police Employee Receives $500K For Employer’s Failure to Accommodate His Disability, New Jersey Employment Lawyer Blog, April 13, 2017
New Jersey Supreme Court Upholds $1.4M Emotional Damage Award in Race Discrimination Case, New Jersey Employment Lawyer Blog, March 16, 2017