TIN Inc., a leader in corrugated packaging that does business as Temple-Inland, will pay $250,000 and furnish substantial remedial relief to settle an age discrimination lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced on June 14.
The EEOC charged in its suit (Case No. CV-06-1899-PHX-NVW in the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona) that TIN fired three workers aged 40 or older at its Glendale, Ariz., plant because of age between 2002 and 2005. TIN manufactures a type of heavy brown paper known as containerboard.
In addition to paying $250,000 to the three terminated employees, the EEOC settlement by consent decree requires the company to provide training and other relief aimed at educating its employees about age discrimination and their rights under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA). The ADEA protects people 40 years of age or older from employment discrimination based on age and from retaliation for complaining about it.
The settlement follows a decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit that reversed a lower court’s judgment against the EEOC and revived the EEOC’s claims of age discrimination against TIN. In a memorandum decision (EEOC v. TIN, Inc., No. 08-16749, Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, October 20, 2009), the court of appeals reversed the decision of the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona because the appellate court concluded, after reviewing the record, that the district court had erred in awarding summary judgment in the company’s favor.
The appellate court noted that the EEOC had submitted evidence to the district court that two supervisors of the affected former employees had made comments “from which a jury could find that they harbored discriminatory animus toward older workers.” The case was then returned to the U.S. District Court for further proceedings.
“Workers over 40 often possess extensive job experience and skills, yet are still vulnerable to discrimination,” said EEOC regional attorney Mary Jo O’Neill. “Employers must look beyond age when making life-changing decisions for employees such as hiring and firing.”
EEOC acting district director Rayford Irvin said, “Age discrimination continues to be a problem in our communities and we will continue to aggressively enforce our civil rights laws on behalf of older workers.”
In Fiscal Year 2009, the EEOC received 22,778 charges of age discrimination and recovered $72.1 million in monetary benefits for charging parties and other aggrieved individuals in connection with ADEA charges (not including monetary benefits obtained through litigation).
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its Web site at www.eeoc.gov.