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PAETEC-Owned Cavalier Telephone To Pay $1 Million in Age-Discrimination Suit

Cavalier Telephone Company Inc. has agreed to pay $1 million and provide other relief to settle an age discrimination lawsuit, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission announced Monday.

A three-year consent decree that takes effect in the mid-Atlantic region bars Cavalier Telephone from further discriminating against job applicants or employees because of their age and prevents retaliation against employees or applicants.

Richmond, Va.-based Cavalier Telephone also must offer jobs to qualified applicants age 40 or older who were denied hire because of the alleged discriminatory hiring practices, noted the EEOC, the agency responsible for enforcing federal laws that prohibit employment discrimination.

We brought this lawsuit to advance everyones legal right to a workplace free of age bias,” said Lynette A. Barnes, regional attorney for the EEOCs Charlotte District Office, which oversees litigation the agency files in Virginia. Stereotypes concerning the abilities of older workers often lead companies to make discriminatory hiring decisions. This lawsuit and settlement will serve as a reminder to all employers that companies must make employment decisions based on an applicants ability to perform the job, not his or her age.”

The lawsuit filed by the EEOC alleged that Cavalier Telephone a company acquired by PAETEC Holding Corp. in December 2010 had a practice in its mid-Atlantic region of not hiring applicants age 40 or older for sales account executive positions.

The activity began around May 2003 and continued, according to the EEOC.

Cavalier Telephone targeted younger applicants by indicating both verbally and in writing that it was seeking recent college graduates” or individuals in their early 20s or 30s” as candidates for sales positions, according to the lawsuit. The companys sales force allegedly underrepresented people age 40 or older within the mid-Atlantic region covering Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Virginia as well as in Washington, D.C.

The EEOC also asserted Cavalier Telephone demoted two former employees after they complained about the companys discriminatory practices. One of those employees resigned while the other individual continued to complain about the companys discriminatory practices and was eventually fired, according to the suit, which was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia.

Those two individuals will receive proceeds from the settlement.  Money from the settlement also will be distributed to individuals that the EEOC has determined were not hired because of their age.

The consent decree also includes the following additional terms:

  • Cavalier Telephone must use an applicant tracking system for persons hired and any individual who submits an applicant, and the company must provide specific information about its hiring of applicants by age; and
  • The company must provide training to staff, post a notice regarding its commitment to equal opportunity and a diverse work force and report compliance to the EEOC.

Age discrimination violates the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA). The federal law also prohibits an employer from retaliating against an employee who complains about such discrimination.

This particular litigation stemmed from recruiting activities between 2003 and 2005 by Cavalier, a company that PAETEC acquired in December 2010,” Mary O’Connell, PAETEC general counsel and executive vice president, told Channel Partners. “PAETEC acknowledges the importance of non-discrimination in all aspects of the work environment and will continue through our integration activities to ensure compliance with laws and ethical behavior by all acquired company employees.   


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