White River Health System to Pay $52,500 to Settle EEOC Age Discrimination Lawsuit

U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)
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U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)

Health Care Provider Fired Older Workers With Driving Responsibilities Because of Their Age, Federal Agency Charged

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – White River Health System, Inc., headquartered in Batesville, Ark., will pay $52,500 to four former employees as part of the settlement of an age discrimination lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced today.

According to the EEOC’s suit, filed in February 2020, White River fired four employees because White River’s insurance policy excluded anyone over the age of 72 from driving. The employees, over the age of 72, had driven for several years without incident. The company made no attempt to secure alternative driver’s insurance that would cover the employees, the EEOC said.

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) protects employees from discrimination based on age. The EEOC filed its lawsuit (Civil Action No. 3:20-cv-00049) in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas, Northern Division, after attempting to resolve the case through its conciliation process.

Under the two-year consent decree entered by Judge D. P. Marshall, Jr., White River will pay the four employees $52,500 in back pay. In addition, under the terms of the consent decree:

  • White River is enjoined from terminating, or failing to hire any employees with driving responsibilities because of the individual’s age
  • White River will not discriminate based on age in the purchase of insurance for employees who have driving responsibilities
  • Before renewing or purchasing any commercial automobile insurance policies, White River will contact a minimum of three insurance companies to ascertain whether it can obtain policies which do not exclude from coverage any drivers age 40 or older based on their age
  • White River will review its existing equal employment opportunity policies to ensure the policies show a strong and clear commitment to preventing unlawful age discrimination and retaliation
  • White River will conduct training for its senior center employees on the requirements of ADEA
  • White River will provide to EEOC any complaints of age discrimination and White River’s responses to the complaints

“The primary purpose of Congress when passing the ADEA was ‘to promote employment of older persons based on their ability rather than their age,” said Faye A. Williams, regional attorney of the EEOC’s Memphis District Office, which has jurisdiction over Arkansas, Tennessee and portions of Mississippi. “An employee’s value does not disappear simply because he or she has reached a certain age. We commend White River for its efforts in seeking a quick resolution without protracted litigation.”

Edmond Sims, acting district director of the Memphis District Office added, “In Fiscal Year 2020, more than 24,000 charges, or 20% of the charges filed with EEOC, claimed age discrimination. This case serves as a reminder that employers may not set arbitrary age limits to displace older workers who are satisfactorily performing their jobs.”

White River Health System operates senior centers in Mountain View, Brockwell, Salem, Mammoth Springs, Hardy, Cherokee Village, and Ash Flat, Ark.

The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available 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.

© U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) | Attorney Advertising

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