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Ballpark beer vendor loses lawsuit alleging age discrimination

Age discrimination in the workplace can sometimes be difficult to prove. When an older employee is terminated, demoted or denied advancement, the company often claims it is because the employee's work performance has deteriorated with age.

An 86-year-old concessions vendor at a Major League Baseball park recently suffered such an injustice. She claims that her employers engaged in age discrimination by reassigning her from a busy and lucrative beer stand to another concessions stand elsewhere in the park. She also claims that she has endured derogatory comments about her age from supervisors.

The woman works at Citi Field, which replaced Shea Stadium in 2009. In 2008, her company changed her assignment, citing that the lines at her concession stand were too long and that she was responsible for the slow service. However, they did not also reassign her co-worker at the stand, who is a man half her age.

Furthermore, the woman claims that one of managers made derogatory comments to her son, calling the woman an "antique dinosaur, old cripple."

Because the woman was reassigned to a less busy concessions stand where fewer tips are offered, she will earn about $3,000 less each year. However, her lawyer insists that her lawsuit was not about money. Rather, "it was about vindicating her rights under the statute not to have to work in an environment where that kind of statement can be made."

Unfortunately, the woman has lost her case alleging age discrimination, and a state appeals court recently upheld the ruling. While she still has a job, she is left in the difficult position of continuing to work for those who have insulted her and made derogatory comments about her. No one should have to suffer harassment in the workplace, regardless of age.

Source: Thomson Reuters Westlaw News, "Beer vendor strikes out at the old ballgame," Jennifor Golson, 04 May 2011

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