Maui County Being Sued for Age Discrimination

The County of Maui is currently being sued by the EEOC for age discrimination. The EEOC (U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) filed a lawsuit in December 2013 stating that Maui County violated federal law when a qualified candidate for a police officer position was refused employment due to his age.

Clearly Qualified

The lawsuit claims that Lars Sandstrom, who applied for the police officer position back in 2009, met every one of the position’s minimum qualifications and also passed the required qualifying written exam. Sandstrom has a bachelor’s degree plus extensive military experience and other life experiences which the EEOC says clearly qualified him for the police officer position.

The suit goes on to say that during the interview for the position, incorrect assumptions were made about Sandstrom’s capacity for the job due to his age of 45 at the time. One comment made in the interview expressed doubt that someone Sandstrom’s age would be able to handle the “stress of training.” Sandstrom was ultimately not chosen for the police officer position. However, despite these experiences, Sandstrom was in fact able to gain employment as a police officer at a different police department.

Was Age a Factor?

The EEOC investigation found that there were a number of other less-qualified candidates in the pool that went on to be hired as police officers during the time of Sandstrom’s application and experiences with the Maui Police Department department. The alleged conduct of Maui County violates the ADEA, or Age Discrimination in Employment Act. The suit against Maui County was filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Hawaii after first attempting to achieve a pre-litigation settlement through a conciliation process.

The EEOC suit (Case # CV-13-00698-LEK-KSC, EEOC v. County of Maui Police Department) seeks back pay, liquidated damages and benefits for Sandstrom, plus injunctive relief which is intended to prevent further instances of such discrimination at the department.

Maui County Has Hired Officers Over 40

Maui County Counsel Pat Wong maintains that a qualified candidate was not overlooked by the Maui Police Department due to age and that the department has a policy against such discrimination. He went on to say that Maui County has hired a number of applicants over 40 as police officers, including some that were even older than Lars Sandstrom. He believes Maui County will prevail in the matter.

Unfortunately, older workers face age discrimination due to inaccurate stereotypes and assumptions about their abilities. Age discrimination comprises about 23% of all EEOC charges filed in the state of Hawaii as well as around the United States. The EEOC, which enforces federal laws against employment-related discrimination, says that employers must work hard to ensure such stereotyping is not occurring in their workplaces and that it does not impact a qualified person’s eligibility for gaining employment. Older workers can bring wisdom, experience and other valuable qualities to the work¬≠force.

If you believe you have been discriminated against by a potential employer due to your age or for any other reason, contact us today to find out more about your rights.

Posted in Employment Law

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