Age Related Comments Evidence of Age Discrimination

The 8th Circuit Court of Appeals recently found that a decision-makers age related comments could be evidence of age discrimination:

“Viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to Thomas, we also conclude that the age-related comments that Hagen made in the workplace were sufficiently related to Thomas and to the decisional process to constitute direct evidence of discrimination. Hagen described Thomas as an “old short blond girl.” In the same two-month period in which Thomas was discharged, Hagen stated “that older people didn’t work as fast or were as productive as younger people,” and he “made some comments about having fresh blood, younger employees.” “Right after” the termination, Hagen explained to a Heartland client who was concerned about Thomas’s absence that “he likes to keep himself surrounded with young people.” A reasonable jury thus could infer that Hagen affirmed and took part in Thomas’s discharge, that he was motivated by age-based animus, and that his bias was a contributing factor to the adverse employment action. See Denesha v. Farmers Ins. Exch., 161 F.3d 491, 500-01 (8th Cir. 1998); Fast v. S. Union Co., 149 F.3d 885, 891 (8th Cir. 1998).”

 

Case: Thomas v. Heartland Employment Services, LLC, 14-1349, 8th Cir. August 13, 2015