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Ohio State Settles Age Discrimination Lawsuit — Chicago’s Top Employment Lawyers

There are many different forms of discrimination happening every day all over the country, but no one ever wants to believe they’re the target of discrimination. It’s common for people to attribute unfair or disrespectful treatment to their own failings, or maybe other circumstances of which they may not be aware. It takes a lot for someone to file a discrimination lawsuit, but Julianne Taaffe and Kathryn Moon finally hit their limit.

The two women, now in their sixties, have been teaching English as a second language at Ohio State University to students from 40 countries since 1983. Normally, one would consider having decades of experience under their belt something to be proud of, but when a new program director took over in 2009, the women began to suspect that their talents weren’t being valued.

According to the employment discrimination lawsuit, the new program director allegedly disparaged Taaffe, Moon, and other veterans in their department, while promoting workers who were younger and less experienced.

At first, the women thought they were doing something wrong, but they both consistently received stellar reviews of their work. It wasn’t until 2010, when their boss sent an email to an acquaintance at another university bemoaning the fact that he had to deal with workers who were averse to change, many of them over 50 years old and contemplating retirement. Then he allegedly compared them to hippos. When he sent it, he accidentally copied a member of his own staff.

Unfortunately, that was just the beginning. For years after that Taaffe, Moon and their fellow veterans in the E.S.L. department were allegedly passed over for promotions, as well as the most desirable assignments. They allegedly lost their offices and were made to work in cramped spaces, while their younger colleagues got to stay in their offices and use their own desktops. Even after the program director left the position, his successor allegedly continued his policies, including referring to veteran employees as “dead wood.” Moon alleges it was part of a strategy to make them uncomfortable enough that they would decide to retire instead of facing such disrespectful behavior.

Taaffe lodged a formal complaint and the university conducted an investigation, but allegedly did nothing to remedy the situation. Both women suffered stress-related health issues and finally retired in 2014. They had been planning to keep working for years, but they were afraid they would be forced out of their positions and lose their health benefits if they didn’t retire. Neither woman was able to find a similar job at another school.

Finally, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission concluded that Ohio State had violated the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act by discriminating against Taaffe, Moon and other veterans of the E.S.L. department because of their age.

The University recently agreed to settle the federal lawsuit by hiring back both Taaffe and Moon, complete with both back pay and retroactive benefits, all of which came to more than $200,000 for each woman. It also paid an additional $325,000 to the Gittes Law Group and the AARP Foundation’s attorneys for the legal costs they incurred from filing and arguing the discrimination lawsuit. The Chicago overtime lawyers at the Chicago Overtime Law Center are investigating unpaid overtime claims against large retail chains such as Petsmart, OfficeMax, Staples, Smart & Final, Apple, Walgreen’s, CVS, Urban Outfitters, GAP, Abercrombie & Fitch, Limited, Forever 21, Macy’s, Target, JC Penney’s, Lowes, Burlington Coat Factory, Marshalls, TJ Max, Victoria’s Secret, Nieman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, Best Buy, Home Depot, Apple, Best Buy, Sears, K Mart, J.C Penney, Walmart, Costco, PetSmart, REI, Office Depot and other retail chains for misclassifying employees as managers, erasing or altering time sheets or time records, pressuring workers not to report or record overtime, failing to pay for time spent on security checks, and otherwise failing to pay workers for overtime and other wages. If you are the victim of this practice you can call us at one of our offices near Deerfield, and Aurora at (312) 869-4095 or contact us online.