An Ohio man who successfully sued his employer under the Age Discrimination in
Employment Act (ADEA) prevailed once again on appeal in front of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio. Jon Spengler was fifty-three years old when he started as a seasonal employee in charge of spray-washing pressure cylinders designed to hold propane and other industrial gases. Despite his above average performance, Spengler was repeatedly not promoted to regular full-time status like many of his high-achieving counterparts.
A supervisor attempted to quell Spengler's questions about promotion by telling Spengler that he would recommend a transfer to the Steel Division because Spengler would "probably have trouble keeping up with the younger guys" in the Cylinder Division. When Spengler reported such comments to the Plant Manager, that supervisor was admonished. Less than four weeks later, the plant terminated Spengler because of "negative comments" from his co-workers concerning Spengler's "attitude and interpersonal skills".
After his firing, Spengler continued to defend his right to work and filed an EEOC complaint against Worthington Cylinders. Within five months of his firing, he also retained counsel and brought the ADEA claims.
Given the notorious high standards of proof under ADEA, Spengler's age discrimination
claim did not survive summary judgment. But because he prudently raised his concerns to a supervising manager at the early stages of the situation, his retaliation claim had legs. The jury awarded him about $22K for lost wages and an equal amount in liquidated damages.