Although one would believe that with age comes wisdom, especially in the medical field, a recent case in the neighboring state of Iowa shows a different reality. Minnesota readers may be interested to hear about a recent employment law case where an 81-year-old doctor was subjected to age discrimination that resulted in wrongful discharge.
After 55 years of practice, the aging doctor was able to secure a position at a center for the mentally disabled. Unfortunately, only eight days later, the man was fired from his position. The issue was brought before a jury, where the details of the case were examined.
According to the man's lawyer, the doctor was asked age-related questions during his interview for the position. Once hired, he was given a salary of $105,000, but court documents state the pay scale for the job was between $162,843 and $231,608.
Furthermore, once the doctor began his job, he was reportedly subjected to "discriminatory treatment and harassment" due to his age and received inadequate training for the job. As he worked, he was denied at least one of his job responsibilities and his hours and pay were reduced. Finally, just a week later, he was terminated.
After reviewing all the facts of the case, a county jury awarded the man a total of $340,000. Of that, $140,000 was in lost wages and an addition $200,000 was for past and future emotional distress. According the man's lawyer, being fired was a huge blow for the 55-year veteran, causing him to suffer significant depression.
Although some employers may view older workers as liabilities, there are laws, such as the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, that are set up to protect workers against this type of discrimination. In Minnesota, the Minnesota Human Rights Act makes it illegal for employers to discriminate based on age when it comes to employment practices.
Source: Business Week, "Doctor wins 340K in Iowa age discrimination case," David Pitt, June 14, 2012