HiLine Electric to Pay $210,000 to Settle EEOC Age Discrimination Suit

U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)
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Industrial Supply Business Used Age Criterion in Hiring and Recruitment Practices, Federal Agency Charged 

DALLAS - HiLine Electric Co., a Dallas-based industrial supply business, will pay $210,000 and furnish other relief to settle an age discrimination suit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.  The settlement resolved agency claims that the employer included an age-based criterion in its recruiting and hiring process.  

According to the EEOC's suit, an internal recruiter informed the agency that company executives provided her a form with a list of bulleted criteria/considerations for position candidates.  This form included a printed text box, referred to as the "HiLine box," listing an age-based hiring consideration.  Upon receipt of additional information regarding instructions for screening, the EEOC alleged that the criteria HiLine used resulted in the non-selection of applicants who were over 50 and who appeared to be qualified for the position.  Eight applicants, who were over 50 years of age when they unsuccessfully sought employment as territory managers, were identified as having been affected by the company's practice.

Such alleged conduct violates the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA).  The EEOC filed suit (Case No. 3:09-CV-1848-M) in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, Dallas Division, after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.  Trial of this the case was scheduled to begin on Oct. 20.  

A consent decree signed by Federal District Judge Barbara Lynn resolves all claims in the case.  In addition to the monetary damages, the three-year decree also provides for injunctive relief such as training and a notice posting.  HiLine agreed that it shall not in the future prepare, produce, publish or provide to any recruiter, manager, supervisor or any other employee, materials or lists of criteria in which chronological age or any proxy for age is a consideration for recruitment, hiring or promotion.  

"Avoiding cookie-cutter workforces based on an age limit is something we hope all employers will guard against," said EEOC Supervisory Trial Attorney Suzanne Anderson.  "Recruitment strategies should leave out age-based prerequisites, or preferences that potentially diminish the value of experience." 

Dallas District Director Janet Elizondo said, "We are pleased with the scope of the commitment that the company has made given the breadth of the multi-state regional areas it covers.  This settlement represents a mutual recognition that well-rounded recruitment is the key to any employer's efforts to find the best candidates for the job."  

The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination.  Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.

 

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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