Court Orders Hawaii HealthCare Professionals and Its Owner to Pay Over $190,000 For Age Discrimination
On July 26, 2012, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced that Hawaii Healthcare Professionals Inc. and its owner have been ordered to pay $193,236 to a woman allegedly fired due to her age, in a default judgment awarded by U.S. District Judge Alan C. Kay in Hawaii. The judgment resolves an age discrimination lawsuit filed by the EEOC against the Honolulu-based home health care services company in 2010.
As reported in thejobmouse.com, the company’s owner, Carolyn Frutoz-De Harne, ordered the 2008 termination of Debra Moreno, a then-54-year-old office coordinator at its Maui facility, despite reports by the facility’s manager, who actually hired and supervised Moreno, that Moreno was a thorough and efficient worker. Frutoz-De Harne allegedly ordered that Moreno be fired after telling the manager that Moreno “looks old,” “sounds old on the telephone,” and is “like a bag of bones.” Frutoz-De Harne also allegedly told the manager that Moreno was not the type of person she wanted representing her company. After the termination, the manager reported the ageist comments to Moreno, who in turn filed a discrimination charge with the EEOC.
Following an investigation, the EEOC filed suit against Hawaii Healthcare Professionals in U.S. District Court for the District of Hawaii (EEOC v. Hawaii Healthcare Professionals, Inc. a/k/a Hawaii Professional HomeCare Services, Inc., Case No. CV-10-00549 BMK), and subsequently added Frutoz-De Harne as a named defendant. The EEOC charged that the conduct was a form of age discrimination, which violates the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA).
In addition to the monetary award for Moreno, the judgment also requires that the defendants prevent future age discrimination and retaliation by developing and disseminating procedures to address such claims and training all staff on their rights with respect to age discrimination and retaliation, with additional training for supervisors on how to deal with complaints. The defendants also must retain an outside equal employment opportunity (EEO) coordinator to assist with these efforts and post a notice for employees regarding the judgment. The EEOC will monitor compliance with the judgment.
The EEOC enforces federal laws under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which prohibits employment discrimination and harassment based on race, color, creed, national origin, or sex as well as the Age Discrimination in Employment Act or “ADEA” which prohibits discrimination based on age. Although the Hawaii Health Care lawsuit took place in Hawaii, workplace discrimination and harassment is prohibited in California through virtually identical laws. In California, the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) prohibits an employer from discriminating and harassing against a worker on the basis of age, race, national origin, religion, gender, marital status, gender identity, medical condition (cancer & HIV/AIDS), pregnancy, and disability. It is also illegal in California for an employer to discriminate against an employee because of that employee’s sexual orientation or perceived sexual orientation. With regard to age, FEHA prohibits an employer from discriminating against any employee because that employee is over forty (40) years old.
If you believe you have been subjected to discrimination because of your age or any of the above categories, contact the attorneys at Khorrami, LLP, for an immediate and confidential evaluation.