A 64-year-old man who was “forced” to resign by the New York Hilton and subsequently replaced with two workers who were much younger has won a job discrimination lawsuit against the hotel chain. The man, Mohammad Khan, was forced out of his job in 2012 at the age of 61. He had worked in a variety of front-office roles at Hilton’s flagship location in Manhattan since 1979.
According to the complaint which was filed in 2013, Mr. Khan had received glowing annual reviews for most of his tenure, but something changed in February 2012. In that review, a new and much younger supervisor found his performance “unsatisfactory.” Mr. Khan was then placed on 6 months’ probation before being terminated in October of that year.
During his probationary period, the plaintiff noticed that the environment had changed after the corporation was bought out, and new and younger managers were brought on. Not only was Mr. Khan terminated, the new owners refused to give him his pension – and this was a critical element in the lawsuit. After a trial that lasted 5 days, a jury agreed that Hilton had discriminated against Mr. Khan because of his age, and awarded him $250,000.
What is age discrimination?
According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, age discrimination involves treating an employee or job applicant less favorably because of his or her age. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) prohibits age discrimination against people who are age 40 or older – these individuals are considered to be members of a “protected class.” Moreover, some states have laws that protect workers who are younger than 40. Generally, state and federal laws forbid discrimination based on a person’s age in connection with any aspect of employment, including hiring and firing, compensation and benefits, job assignments and promotions and any other term or condition of employment.
While the plaintiff in this case prevailed, age discrimination cases are hard to prove. Because of this, these cases often do not go to trial, and if/when they do, plaintiff’s frequently do not win. The evidence is often circumstantial, and the intentions of employers involved in these cases are not readily apparent.
However, in Mr. Khan’s case, his attorneys relied on the testimony of past and present employees of Hilton who had worked with the plaintiff. The fact that Mr. Khan was denied his pension benefits may have also weighed in his favor.
If you believe you have been the victim age discrimination, you should speak to a qualified employment attorney.