As the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s FY 2019 report reflects 21.4% of all employment charges handled in 2019 were for age discrimination; 41.4% of all charges allege retaliation. Recently, seven former directors of a grocery store chain filed suit alleging age discrimination and retaliation arising from alleged transfer to failing stores and denial of the same job opportunities as younger employees. Cesario v. Jewel Food Stores, Inc. A federal district court in Illinois dismissed the claims due to the absence of proof of adverse personnel actions. The lack of evidence was established, in part, by reinstatement after a medical leave and the lack of proof that age factored into a discharge decision. In the end, the Court held that “despite their sweeping accusations, they [plaintiffs] each fail to present enough evidence of Jewel’s discriminatory or retaliatory animus or adverse actions sufficient to support claims of discrimination or retaliation.”
A word to the wise. Personnel decisions should be supported by provable, documented business reasons. Internal dispute resolution procedures should be available to seek redress for what employees see as unfair adverse personnel decisions. And, lastly, a group claim waiver in an arbitration agreement could have avoided a seven-plaintiff lawsuit that likely would have ben confusing to a jury.