A recent verdict illustrates why it’s so important for employers to ensure that employees are all treated equally and that no one is forced to endure harassment.
Sindy Warren discussed a costly example of what happens when this isn’t the case on Warren & Associates’ Our Blog.
The lawsuit involves a 66-year-old man who worked for Staples and was allegedly called an “old goat” and “old coot” on a regular basis and was asked to resign by his manager, which he refused to do. According to his age discrimination and harassment suit, Bobby Nickel also alleged he was disciplined differently than his younger coworkers, including being suspended for taking a 68-cent bell pepper from the cafeteria.
In the end, Warren says the jury decided Nickel’s 2011 termination was based on age, sending “the strongest damages message in L.A. county history in a discrimination suit” by awarding him $26 million, $22.8 million in punitive damages.
Warren says employers should never tolerate, encourage or participate in age-based jokes no matter how “innocuous they may seem.” It’s also important to ensure that disciplinary policies are consistent, she says, so they can’t be said to be “based on a protected category.”