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AT&T Faces Age-Discrimination Lawsuit

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The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) says that it has filed an age discrimination lawsuit against AT&T. The EEOC charged that AT&T discriminated against a class of retired AT&T workers by denying them the ability for reemployment solely because they retired under early retirement plans including the Voluntary Retirement Incentive Program (VRIP), the Enhanced Pension and Retirement Program (EPR) or other retirement plan.

The effect of this denial of reemployment is claimed to have resulted in a disproportionate number of older workers not having the same opportunity to apply for reemployment, in violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA).

According to the lawsuit, retired AT&T workers, are denied reemployment because they had participated in the VRIP, EPR or other retirement program. John Yates, who originally filed the discrimination charge with the EEOC, and all other retirees who are age 40 or older are protected by law from discrimination because of their age. The result of AT&T's policy is to exclude this class of older workers because of their age from being reemployed by AT&T regardless of their qualifications. This violation has been ongoing since at least October 1, 2006, the EEOC said.

"We've been taking a new and hard look at age discrimination recently, and we're intent on enforcing the ADEA strategically and vigorously," said EEOC Acting Chairman Stuart J. Ishimaru. "This particular case highlights the Commission's commitment to combating age-based disparate impact discrimination."

EEOC Trial Attorney Louis Graziano said, "Federal law prohibits employers from instituting policies that adversely affect workers because of their age. AT&T's policy has that effect."

EEOC New York District Director Spencer H. Lewis added, "All employees, regardless of their age, should be permitted to complete for jobs equally. That is the fundamental right that the ADEA grants to older workers. We hope this lawsuit sends a message to such employers that the EEOC will seek relief when it finds the law has been violated."

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