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Wyoming County salesman wins $50,000 in age-bias case

A Wyoming County salesman will receive $50,000 from a federal age discrimination lawsuit after his employer, Pennsylvania-based Alex C. Fergusson Inc. or AFCO, pushed him to retire at age 65.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission announced the settlement was approved Wednesday by Judge Richard J. Arcara in U.S. District Court in Buffalo.

The cleaning products company sent salesman Raymond Allen a letter stating that it was company policy for employees to retire at age 65, the EEOC said. The letter gave him a choice of full retirement on his 65th birthday, or semi-retirement with maximum annual pay of $11,650.

The case is "almost unique," EEOC Senior Trial Attorney Markus L. Penzel said. "It's unusual to see anything like this in writing."

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act prohibits mandatory retirement based on age, with limited exceptions. For example, high-level executives may be required to retire if they will receive retirement benefits of at least $44,000 a year, Penzel said.

Many employers are taken to court for selectively eliminating jobs of older workers, but few put an illegal retirement policy in writing, he said.

Employees may recover lost wages and benefits resulting from age discrimination under federal law, Penzel said. Employers may be required to pay double damages.

AFCO, based in Chambersburg, Pa., agreed to distribute a notice saying it doesn't have a mandatory retirement policy, and to give managers training in equal employment opportunity issues.


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