ELDR Power: Why Don’t We Do It in the Road
A 60-year-old road construction worker encountered age discrimination when he applied for a new position, so he took them to court. Here's the verdict.
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
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In 2001, when James "Bucky" Spooner was 60 years old, he applied for the job of road foreman in his hometown of Topsham, Vermont. Despite 30 years of experience driving trucks and operating heavy equipment, and 15 years of road work, he was passed over in favor of a 32-year-old man with less experience. Two out of three members of the Selectboard decided Spooner was too old and would probably retire in a couple of years.
He sued the town for age discrimination and finally won his case on January 25, 2008. An Orange County Superior Court jury awarded him $241,119 after hearing three days of testimony. It took the jury less than four hours of deliberations to reach a verdict.
The money represents what Spooner would have earned over the last six years if he had gotten the job, but doesn't cover emotional distress. In the opinion of Spooner's lawyer, Edwin Hobson of Burlington, Vermont, his client would have preferred the job to the money. Hobson says that Spooner loved the work and would go out on his own to fix culverts in the town.
Spooner is still working in construction.
The town is considering whether or not to appeal the verdict. Sandra Everitt, head of the civil rights division of the Vermont Attorney General's Office says Spooner's case is rare in that most age discrimination cases in the state don't make it to trial. In Spooner's case there was clear evidence that age was a factor in the hiring decision.
-Source: Burlington Free Press