BATESVILLE, Ark. (News release) – White River Health System, Inc., a provider of health care services throughout North Central Arkansas, violated federal law by removing a class of employees from their positions because of their age, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed February 7, 2020.
According to the EEOC’s suit, on or about Oct. 23, 2018, the company’s area director told two senior center directors, then ages 77 and 80, that the company had decided to terminate their employment effective immediately because White River Health’s insurance policy excluded anyone over the age of 72 from driving. The EEOC further charges that White River Health removed other employees over the age of 72 from their positions for the same reason. The company made no attempt to secure alternative driver’s insurance that would cover the employees, the EEOC said.
Such alleged conduct violates the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA). The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas, Northern Division, Civil Action No. 3:20-cv-00049, after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The suit seeks monetary relief in the form of back pay and liquidated damages, as well as an injunction against future discrimination.
“When Congress passed the ADEA, one of the purposes of the act was ‘to promote employment of older persons based on their ability rather than their age,’” said Delner Franklin-Thomas, district director of the EEOC’s Memphis District Office, which has jurisdiction over Arkansas, Tennessee and portions of Mississippi. “To terminate employees simply because they have reached a certain age is illegal as well as unjust.”
The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at www.eeoc.gov. Stay connected with the latest EEOC news by subscribing to our email updates.