Age discrimination can be proved by statements by a fired employee's supervisors referring to him as "grandpa," "dinosaur," "over-the-hill," "old and fat" and asking when he was going to retire, a federal appeals court ruled in Willard v. Huntington Ford. This is a very typical case of age discrimination.

The employee, Willard, was 63 years old. He was a long-time and successful new car salesman, winning awards and ranking in the top 125 of some 3,500 new car Ford salespeople. The court's opinion indicated that he was at times pushy even obnoxious toward some of his co-workers, who themselves often acted the same. This resulted ultimately in a blow-up that led to another employee pushing Willard and otherwise escalating the matter. Willard himself was suspended for about a week. The dealership claimed that he was fired because he didn't report back to work from the suspension when he was supposed to.

The appeals court ruled that Willard had a good case of age discrimination for three reasons. First, Willard had a good work record; he'd worked a long time for the dealership and had performed at a very high level, as noted above. Second, the reason or reasons the employer offered up for firing Willard didn't make sense; put more bluntly, the appeals court ruled that a jury could find them to be a pack of lies. Third, even though Willard made the dealership a lot of money and, therefore, made his supervisors look good, they insulted and ridiculed him, sometimes in front of his peers, by referring to him as "grandpa," "dinosaur," "over-the-hill," and "old and fat", statements that obviously refer negatively to Willard's age. When Willard complained about these statements, he was welcomed to find another job, a response that indicates a wish that he just leave his job at the dealership.

Lexington, Kentucky discrimination lawyer Robert Abell represents individuals and employees in discrimination cases in state and federal court throughout Kentucky; contact him at 859-254-7076.

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