Kanbar Property Management LLC (“KPM”) pays $140,000 to settle an age discrimination lawsuit. The discrimination lawsuit was first filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC“). The EEOC alleged KPM violated federal law by firing Toni Strength because of her age, 53, and favoring younger people to replace her. Such alleged conduct violates the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (“ADEA”), which prohibits basing employment decisions on a person’s age if he or she is over 40. This includes promotions, demotions, firings and making any hiring decision. In a world where technology is moving very fast, company’s believe they must look young and jettison older workers. This is not only illegal but it ends up costing companies valued employees. It is very hard to replace experience and knowledge. The company should take a hard look at the person who made this terrible decision and considering firing him.
According to published accounts, Toni Strength was one of KPM’s long-time veteran property managers who had been with KPM and its predecessor property management companies for over 17 years. KPM notified Strength, who was 53 at the time, that she was being terminated on Oct. 29, 2010, because her position was being eliminated. Many times companies use the excuse of downsizing or elimination of a position as a way to get rid of older employees and replace them with younger ones. In this case Strength was deliberately replaced with a younger women. In face the company placed a 23-year-old clerical employee in the property manager position. The EEOC alleged these actions were taken because KPM’s former CEO, Suhki Ghuman, wanted “younger and prettier” property managers to meet with potential tenants and entertain potential tenants after regular work hours, and characterized Strength as “too old and ugly.” Looks like the CEO thought he was running the Playboy lounge not a business. Who is he to say who is old and ugly looking. He sounds like a real piece of work and I can see why he is the former CEO an no longer working for the company.
What is an older worker suppose to do once she is fired after spending the best years of her working life at one company? It isn’t right for a company to treat an employee this way. I am glad the EEOC held the company to the standards of today and not let them act like this is 1950. I wonder if the CEO will think he is too old and ugly once he turns 50 and ask that he be replaced? Companies would be wise to read Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and follow it. Not only did this cost the company money but also it cost them in reputation. How many people over 40 are going to want to do business with this company in the future? A young CEO should remember that one day he will be old too. It is not enough for the company to pay a settlement amount. The company needs a shift in its’ attitude toward older workers. The company needs to see the value and how wise it is to keep good employees.
“This former CEO’s ageist and sexist marketing strategy – the use of young attractive women to market commercial lease space in downtown Tulsa – is obnoxious and insulting enough, but firing older employees to make room for younger ones is clearly unlawful,” said EEOC attorney Jeff Lee.