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Federal Jury Finds for EEOC in Age Discrimination Case

A Wisconsin jury reached a verdict in favor of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, finding RockAuto violated the Age Discrimination in Employment Act. Following a three-day trial, the jury concluded the online-auto parts seller rejected Glenn McKewen’s application because of his age.

In October 2016, McKewen applied for an entry-level supply chain manager job. He was 64-years-old at the time of his application. He held a master’s degree in supply chain management and worked in similar positions at another company. He was well-qualified for the position. RockAuto contacted him in response to his application to request his undergraduate degree date. The EEOC asserted McKewen shared his graduation date from more than 20 years ago, and RockAuto rejected him the next day, denying him the opportunity to interview. Applicants younger and less qualified did pass through the interview process. The EEOC asserted the company used McKewen’s “graduation year as a proxy for age.” In a motion to dismiss the case, RockAuto argued McKewen was not qualified for the position, and that the EEOC failed to show RockAuto selected younger, less qualified applicants for the position. The EEOC countered with McKewen’s 15 years of experience in supply chain management, and the 15 new hires under 40 years old whom RockAuto hired over that year.

In its press statement, the EEOC asserted RockAuto would likely have hired McKewen if he had received fair consideration and not been rejected because of his age. In addition, the EEOC stated it hopes cases like McKewen’s send a message to employers not to use age as a factor when deciding who to hire. The court has not yet determined damages.