On September 28, 2010, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed a lawsuit against Asian World of Martial Arts, Inc. for allegedly violating the Age Discrimination in Employment Act by sacking an employee because of his age (EEOC, 2010). The Philadelphia-based leading mail and retail distributor of martial arts supplies was sued after firing the seventy-four year old Morris Pashko, who had faithfully served the company in different capacities for over twenty years.
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According to the newly introduced policy of the company, which was unknown to him, he had surpassed the mandatory retirement age of sixty-seven and therefore the company’s president, Georgette Ciukurescu, compelled him to leave. In spite of his exemplary record, the company made the decision to sack him on November 14, 2007, and his termination was to be effective two weeks later. Sadly, he got the message about the decision while he was on leave and getting better in a hospital bed after undergoing an operation. His pleas to be added more time landed on deaf ears.
The filing of this lawsuit by the EEOC has serious ramifications for the company. Asian World of Martial Arts might have sacked Pashko because it thought that his age could not guarantee a better term of service that could make it mitigate the costs of job training. The implementation of this unfavorable criterion may make the company to risk losing the commitment of its most valuable assets: its employees. Few employees aspire to work for a company having such limiting policies. In addition, the employees already working for it are likely to be less motivated because of fear of being the next victims. More so, the ensuing publicity of this lawsuit can make the company lose its public image.
The EEOC is a self-governing federal regulatory agency that is endowed with the task of preventing unauthorized discrimination of employees at the place of work. The agency’s main role appertains to eliminating all sorts of discriminatory practices based on race, skin color, disability, nationality, gender, and religious affiliation. In a bid to make equal employment opportunity a reality in this age, the federal agency performs various tasks.
Some of these are giving free technical advice to companies and individuals, carrying out public education on discriminatory practices, coming up with guidelines that establish the framework for implementation of the discrimination laws, and making implementation guidelines, which deduce important standards found in the law, available. In addition, the agency receives and addresses grievances of discrimination brought before it by employees. However, it only takes the action to sue the company in a federal court after failed attempts at conciliation of the matter.
In this lawsuit, the EEOC had a defining role. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA) mandates the Commission to tackle such issues. The ADEA prohibits the illegal termination of the employment of persons who are forty years old or above based on age. The law also includes protection from denial of benefits to older employees as well as forced early retirement because of age. Before going to court, the EEOC first attempted to solve the problem amicably by talking to the company.
However, the failed pre-litigation settlement prompted the filing of the lawsuit. Therefore, because Asian World violated this law, EEOC represented the complainant in the court case. Although the ADEA permits compulsory retirement of older workers because of issues that makes them less productive at the place of work, these were not relevant in the case since the complainant had served the company faithfully for the past twenty years without experiencing problems. Consequently, the EEOC fulfilled its role of enforcing federal laws that prevents discrimination of workers in filing this heavily publicized lawsuit.
This lawsuit can promote social change concerning unfair treatment of employees at workplaces by employers. Before the turn of the century, compulsory retirement at a certain age was standard, and these organization policies were still being practiced despite the fact that they were against the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967. This recent court case confirms this illegal practice. More over, it put emphasis on the risk organizations are facing whether they openly or implicitly violate this law.
Therefore, this serves as a reminder that companies still having such policies of not recognizing the requirements of the law concerning mandatory retirement age are at a risk of losing their most valuable assets, who are their employees, as well as losing their public image (Sarelson, 2010). Consequently, with the legal issues that Asian World of Martial Arts will be forced to handle, social change is likely to take place. More over, the company is a market leader in the distribution of martial arts products; therefore, any news associated with it is likely to draw an increased public attention.
The EEOC press release about the lawsuit had significant similarities and differences to the news item. The press release was intended to disseminate information and share with the public about its role in preventing discrimination of employees at the places of work. In this regard, the press release concentrated more on the mandates of the federal agency according to the laws of the United States of America.
On the other hand, the main news item was the firing of the seventy-four year old employee by a leading martial arts company in Philadelphia. Highlighting of this incident was intended to bring to the attention of the public some unfair practices of employers who overtly and implicitly disregard the laws of the United States on employment issues. In addition, the difference may also have arisen due to the emerging role of EEOC in ensuring that every work place in the U.S. is free from any discriminatory practice.
If I were the senior manager of Asian World of Martial Arts, Inc., I would implement a number of strategies so as to prevent discrimination in the company. First, I would start by calling for education forums in which the employees would open up and freely discuss any practices in the company that they deem are discriminatory. Consequently, I would do away with such practices, for example, mandatory retirement based on age, and implement better policies that the employees would be happy with. More over, these education forums would also be intended to enhance their awareness of age discrimination so as to guard themselves against such practice. Next, I would encourage the workers to report to me their grievances when they experience age discrimination and I would respond to their concerns accordingly. Lastly, I would establish disciplinary measures to deal with any employee who is discriminatory at the place of work.
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). (2010). Asian World of Martial Arts Sued for Age Bias EEOC Says Employer Fired Worker Because of Age. Web.
Sarelson, M. (2010). Mandatory Retirement Age: Lawsuit Against Asian World of Martial Arts Serves as Reminder that Mandatory Retirement is Illegal. Sarelson Law Firm, P.A. Web.