Employment Law Shorts

Company can’t interview only ‘inexperienced’ job applicants

A medical device company in Illinois posted an ad for a job in its law department, restricting consideration of applicants to those with no more than seven years of legal experience.

The company received an application from 59-year-old Dale Kleber, who had previously served as general counsel of a public company, head of a national trade organization, and interim CEO of a different medical device business.  The company didn’t interview Kleber and instead filled the position with a 29-year-old.

Kleber sued for age discrimination, arguing that the company was attempting to weed out older applicants.  The company moved to dismiss but a federal judge allowed the case to go forward.  The judge said it wasn’t age discrimination to refuse to interview an overqualified applicant but concluded that a jury should decide whether the company’s cap on years of experience was designed to avoid older candidates in general.


Ex-employee can sue if replaced by someone “substantially younger”

A salesman was fired at age 49 after working for the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company for 27 years.  He sued under the federal age discrimination law which prohibits discrimination against worker over age 40.  MetLife argued that the salesman’s firing couldn’t possibly be discrimination because it replaced him with someone who was 42 years old and, thus, was also protected by the law.  A federal appeals court in Atlanta, however, disagreed.  The court said it didn’t matter that the replacement was also over 40.  So long as his replacement was “substantially younger,” the fired employee could sue and have a jury decide if he was discriminated against.

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