Age Discrimination Case to go to Trial in Boston Federal Court

The U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts rules that employer’s suggestions of retirement to employee and reallocation of responsibilities to younger employee warrants a trial on employee’s age discrimination claim.

United States District Court, District of Massachusetts

SUMMARY: (court decision – opens in PDF)

“Richard J. Durepo, Jr. (Plaintiff), brings this action against his former employer, Eastman Chemical Company (Defendant or Eastman), alleging age discrimination in violation of Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 151B, §4(1B). …

“… Here, it is undisputed that, at age 66, Plaintiff was a member of a protected class, …; that, at least for purposes of summary judgement, he performed his job at an acceptable level, …; and that his employment was terminated. As to the fourth element, while [John] Dolezsar was more than five years younger than Plaintiff, Eastman contends that Dolezsar did not replace Plaintiff because Plaintiff’s position was eliminated by [Laura] Bustamonte’s reorganization and, in any event, Dolezsar was more qualified than Plaintiff. … The court disagrees. …

“Plaintiff has satisfied his burden of showing that Dolezsar took over his functions after he was discharged and, although he and Dolezsar had different backgrounds and skills, that each was qualified to perform those functions to a substantially similar degree. …

“… In Plaintiff’s alleged failure to comply with Eastman’s timekeeping policies by directing his subordinates to falsify their time records and encouraging them to record time they did not work, Eastman has articulated a legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason for terminating Plaintiff’s employment. Consequently, the burden shifts back to Plaintiff to point to evidence on the basis of which a reasonable factfinder could conclude that Eastman’s proffered reason was not the real reason for Plaintiff’s discharge. … “Plaintiff has assembled an aggregate package of proof that entitles him to submit his case to a jury. In this regard, he points to evidence of persistent efforts by his supervisors to persuade him to retire; a plan to strip him of supervisory responsibilities and allocate those responsibilities to a younger, less experienced manager; a discharge process that did not comply with Eastman’s policies and procedures and in which the outcome was foreordained; and termination of employment when a similar, far costlier supervisory lapse resulted in no more than a written warning. …

“There are factual disputes between the parties and evidence based on which a jury could find that Eastman’s stated reasons for terminating Plaintiff’s employment were not true. Plaintiff is entitled to a trial on the contested elements of his age discrimination claim.”

Durepo v. Eastman Chemical Company (Lawyers Weekly No. 02-031-23) (25 pages) (Robertson, U.S.M.J.) (Docket No. 3:20-cv-30195-KAR) (Jan. 23, 2023).



Related Posts

What Are Your Legal Rights As An Employee?

Attorney Shafran represents workers and employees from almost every industry. Call today to discuss your case!

Tell Us Your Story