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Employment Law/Wrongful termination or age discrimination?



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.


Glennis - It sounds as if you have a good handle on the situation.  You might want to contact the local Department of Labor office and raise with them the possibility of claiming you were terminated for asking about wages - it is allowed by law, and should not be used as a reason for termination.  The claim would be for retaliation against you for attempting to exercise your rights under the employment laws of the state and/or federal government.

Termination is only illegal if it is due to unlawful discrimination or retaliation.  Not being given a reason for your termination could actually be to your advantage -- if it were for cause, you would have had to argue that it was a pretext used to disguise their age discrimination or retaliatory acts.  Now, they haven't even tried to hide their behavior.  

Best of luck with your claims -- I hope you teach them a big lesson.

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Margaret M. deMarteleire


I can answer most questions about employment law, federal or state. I am an attorney, not an HR professional, so questions about HR careers, coursework, prospects, etc. are not within my scope.


Attorney for 20 years, currently working exclusively with employment law - FLSA, FMLA, federal contracts, pay, etc.

Temple University School of Liberal Arts, BA, Rhetoric & Communication, 1982 Temple University School of Law, JD, 1990 Certificate in HR, Cornell University ILR School, 2006

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