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An employee failed to show that the reasons his employer offered for his termination from a regional manager position were the result of age bias, held the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Robert Erickson held the position of regional account manager for 20 years at Farmland Industries before the company, an agricultural food producer, changed his position title, and its attending responsibilities, to “Regional Farmland Manager.” Erickson was 49 years old at the time. When he did not meet the new job requirements, he received a poor performance evaluation and was offered a position as a salesperson. He then filed suit under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA). The employer gave him an 18-day deadline to decide on the offer, which he ignored, and the company fired him once the deadline expired. ( Erickson v. Farmland Indus, Inc., 8thCir, 82 EPD 40,931) Erickson alleged that the reasons offered by the company were pretexts for age bias. Farmland contended that Erickson was fired for failing to meet and maintain contact with the two major food co-ops in his region, for failing to participate in a meeting with co-workers, for missing a meeting with his regional vice president (VP) and the CEO, and for failing to meet performance expectations in the new managerial classification, as exhibited in a two-day drive-along evaluation conducted by the VP. Erickson offered transcripts of a taped phone call with another employee in which he alleged that the VP never actually called in his concerns to upper management. He also offered into evidence statements from the co-op managers that stated they had never complained about his contacts with them, and his good performance evaluations from his previous job classification. Finally, Erickson submitted evidence that the VP had made remarks that he had gone “stale” in his position, that he was “set in his ways,” that he needed a new focus, and that “20 years was too long” to be in his position as evidence of pretext for age bias. The 8th Circuit held that Erickson failed to produce any evidence that established that he had been fired due to his age. The transcripts were properly excluded as hearsay evidence, as was the evidence from the co-op managers, the court ruled. Further, the court said, the performance evaluations were not relevant, given the facts that they predated the key poor performance events upon which the company based its discharge decision, and that they pertained to his old job classification. Finally, the court held that the VP’s remarks were not facially indicative of age bias, and reflected legitimate business concerns. Therefore, the court affirmed the district court’s grant of summary judgment against Erickson. � 2002, CCH INCORPORATED. All Rights Reserved.

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