The EEOC is suing Telluride Express over allegations of age discrimination.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission recently filed a lawsuit against San Miguel Mountain Ventures LLC, doing business as Telluride Express, over allegations that it violated federal laws regarding age discrimination “when it refused in 2015 to hire 79-year-old Chester Webber, even though he met all qualifications.” Before filing the lawsuit, the EEOC attempted to settle the dispute through its consolation process, but those efforts failed.
As part of the lawsuit, the EEOC is seeking a “court order prohibiting Telluride Express from policies and programs that discriminate against people 40 and older to eradicate the effects of defendant’s past and present unlawful unemployment practices.” Additionally, the suit is seeking “back wages, liquidated damages and interest for Webber.”
What happened, though? Well, according to the suit, Webber received an application to drive for Telluride Express, a private shuttle service, back in 2015. However, the day after he submitted his application, the company refused the application, “despite his experience and clean driving record.” Why? Well, the company allegedly cited the following insurance agreement it has with Philadelphia Insurance Companies, “No driver under the age of 21 or over the age of 79 is an eligible driver and those between ages 75 and 79 are ineligible to drive passenger transportation vehicles.” In fact, when the Telluride Express transportation supervisor called Webber to tell him he didn’t get the job he noted the reason was because “the company’s commercial auto insurance policy would not cover him as a driver, because he was too old.”
As a result, Webber filed a complaint with the EEOC on November 2, 2015 arguing that Telluride “violated the Age Discrimination Act by not hiring him.” From there, the EEOC launched an investigation into the matter and issued a “letter of determination finding reasonable cause to believe that act was violated.” Because Telluride and the EEOC were unable to reach an agreement through the agency’s conciliation process, the EEOC decided to sue the company.
According to the suit, “Webber was qualified for the job he sought: he had a valid commercial driver’s license, a current Department of Transportation medical certificate, and, with no traffic violations or accidents in the prior three years, Webber had none of the unacceptable offenses detailed on Telluride Express’ application. He also had more than 50 years of safe commercial driving experience under his belt.”
When commenting on the suit, Regional Attorney Mary Jo O’Neill of the EEOC’s Phoenix District Office said, “The ADEA clearly prohibits refusing to hire a qualified candidate because of his age…Job seekers should be evaluated based on their qualifications, not their age.”
EEOC Denver Field Director Amy Burkholder also chimed in on the matter and said:
“The ADEA is there because older workers can and do contribute to our national economy, including as drivers of buses, taxis and ride shares…This law prohibits employers from depriving candidates of an equal opportunity to contribute because of their age, and the EEOC will keep diligently enforcing it.”