NASA’s Jet Propolsion Laboratory recently agreed to settle an age discrimination lawsuit for $10 million.
After being accused of age discrimination, NASA’s Pasadena, Calif.-based Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) agreed to reach an early resolution with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The agreement brings an end to a lawsuit filed on behalf of older JPL employees who were allegedly laid off in favor of “less qualified, younger employees.” As a result f the early resolution, JPL will pay $10 million, along with injunctive relief.
Prior to the resolution, the lawsuit argued JPL “systemically laid off employees over the age of 40 in favor of retaining younger employees.” Doing so is a violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA). The allegations prompted the EEOC to file a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California (EEOC v. Jet Propulsion Laboratory, 2:20-cv-03131-CBM-JC) after early efforts to reach a pre-litigation agreement through its conciliation process failed.
In addition to the monetary relief that dozens of older employees will receive, the “three-year consent decree settling the suit, which remains under the court’s jurisdiction during the term, includes injunctive relief intended to prevent further workplace discrimination.” For example, JPL will retain an “EEO monitor, a diversity director, and a layoff coordinator to monitor compliance with the ADEA and this decree, and ensure that JPL takes no further action that has a disparate impact on employees in the protected age group,” according to the agreement. Additionally, it will “review and, if necessary, revise policies and procedures against all discrimination under the ADEA, and it Further agreed to provide training to all employees on age discrimination and report to the EEOC on recruitment, hiring, layoffs, terminations and complaints about age discrimination, along with the monitoring of such complaints to prevent retaliation,” the agreement states. To ensure compliance, the EEOC will monitor JPL.
When commenting on the recent agreement, Anna Park, a regional attorney for the EEOC’s Los Angeles District, said:
“We commend JPL for its willingness to commit to compliance with the ADEA, for already making proactive efforts to implement much of the injunctive relief, and for taking measures that will have a positive impact on older employees…We encourage other employers to follow JPL’s lead and review their hiring and recruitment policies and practices to make sure they are in compliance with federal law.”
Rosa Viramontes, director of the EEOC’s Los Angeles District Office, chimed in and added:
“Age discrimination is detrimental to companies that can benefit from the experience and expertise of older workers. We are encouraged that JPL has taken the allegations seriously and has agreed to measures that will benefit the workplace.”