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Appellate Court Upholds One Comment Age Discrimination Verdict

Glenda Westmoreland worked for Time Warner Cable (TWC) for more than 30 years. Her work history reflected satisfactory performance with just two minor infractions. Shortly before she was terminated, TWC implemented new sales requirements that included new expectations in record-keeping and goals. These changes were difficult for Westmoreland, particularly the time requirements for holding and documenting subordinate meetings. She ordered one of her subordinates to backdate an evaluation form and her new supervisor found out about it. Initially, the supervisor indicated it was not a big problem. However, Westmoreland was fired for “trust and integrity issues” not long after. As Westmoreland was escorted out of the building, her supervisor said “Oh girl, you don’t have nothing to worry about. You’ll get another job. Just go home and take care of those grandbabies.” Westmoreland was replaced by a 37-year-old.
Westmoreland sued for age discrimination. A jury rejected TWC’s claim that Westmoreland was fired because of the backdated form and awarded her $334,500 in damages. TWC appealed. The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the verdict, determining that the jury’s finding of liability was reasonable based upon its assessment of the witnesses’ credibility and the evidence presented. TWC’s complete change of position about the backdated form could give rise to a suspicion about the true basis for her firing. Moreover, the firing could be considered extreme based on one infraction after a long term of service in conjunction with the comment about her “grandbabies.”