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Employment Law/Age discrimination or wrongful termination?

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Question
Hello,

My name is Glennis Smith. I was employed with a restaurant chain in 2002. My job title was server + server crew leader. My pay rate at time of hire was $3.50 hr + tips.  My pay rate at time of termination was $2.13 hr. I was terminated on June 12, 2013 and management refused to provide any reason for the termination.

I'm a white female in my early 6o's. I have no physical or mental disabilities. The restaurant chain was sold to another company earlier this year. The general manager a white male has made statements to me, other managers and employees stating "wants to get rid of old ones". To my knowledge there were 3 other females over 40 who were also terminated before me.

I'd never had any write ups, customer complaints, no unexcused absenteeism and no formal employee performance reviews. After the change in ownership the manager appointed another crew leader who is under 40 closer to mid 20's (white female) with no training. Training had been a previous requirement before becoming crew leader. The new crew leader is reported to be the general manager's "girlfriend".

The general manager informed both of us the company was longer paying the crew leader rate of $3.50. However, another manager and the newly appointed crew leader both acknowledged she was receiving the $3.50 hr rate While I was reduced to the rate of $2.13 hr still with job description of crew leader.

When the general manager learned I was inquiring about the difference in pay rate he informed the new crew leader, management and other employees of his intent to terminate me. He also in the presence of witnesses referred to me as "old bitch" and "floor whore".

I've been denied a written notice of separation. A former manager whom I worked with at another restaurant has offered me a position at the current store he is managing. I'm in the process of preparing an EEOC complaint. Any guidance on the most appropriate way to move forward is greatly appreciated.

Thanks,
Glennis

Answer
Glennis:

I'm very sorry to hear about this situation.  You are already taking the right first step by working up an EEOC complaint.  If you haven't already done this, it would also be a good idea to get advice from an experienced employment attorney in your area, who can assist you with the EEOC charge and investigation process.  A good attorney will know the ins and outs of working with the EEOC and can save you time and trouble.  If you don't know a lawyer in this field, you can put the name of your city or county and the words "bar association attorney referral" in your search engine and you'll find the right contacts.  For example, here is the lawyer referral page of the DuPage County Bar Association:

http://www.dcba.org/for-the-public/how-to-find-a-lawyer/find-a-lawyer


There is no statutory requirement in Illinois that a written notice of termination of employment be given.  However, if the employer had a published policy or handbook stating the conditions under which an employee can be terminated, and did not follow its own policy, Illinois courts might be inclined to uphold a claim of wrongful termination.  This, of course, is something else you should explore with an employment attorney.

In the meantime, you probably don't need me to tell you this, but definitely accept that job offer!  

I hope this is helpful to you

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Frank C. Magill

Expertise

I can answer questions about any U.S. labor or employment law question. I cannot answer questions about non-US law. I am not a specialist in employee benefit law (ERISA and HIPAA) or Workers' Compensation law, but will do my best to point questioners toward good resources availabe online. Expertise includes, without limitation, EEO/Affirmative Action/Employment discrimination (Title VII, Age Discrimination in Employment Act, Americans With Disabilities Act, GINA, Fair Credit Reporting Act as applied to employment); Fair Labor Standards Act; Texas labor code; Family Medical Leave Act; employee compensation; discipline and dismissal; force reductions, severance pay programs and administration; collective bargaining, union representation, grievances and arbitration, National Labor Relations Act and National Labor Relations Board; employee handbooks; staffing; dispute resolution outside of traditional labor agreements; employee communications; employment policies and compliance programs; codes of ethics; employment or labor litigation.

Experience

30+ years experience as corporate counsel for a Fortune 100 telecom company, specializing in labor and employment law issues. In addition to providing day-to-day advice to my company's internal HR leadership and staff, I've represented the company in numerous labor arbitration cases and at the bargaining table.

Organizations
Texas, Illinois and Missouri state bars

Education/Credentials
J.D. 1979, Harvard Law School. B.A., Summa Cum Laude, 1976, Illinois Wesleyan University.

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