Former Michigan police chief sues for age discrimination

Age discrimination is strictly prohibited by federal and Michigan laws, but that does not prevent it from happening.

When thinking of age discrimination in the workplace, many people in Michigan may imagine a worker who is very elderly. However, according to a report from the AARP, Inc., it could happen much younger. In fact, 58 percent of adults stated that they felt that employees in their 50s may suffer the effects of this type of discrimination.

Such was the case for a former police chief in the Village of Calumet. He recently filed a lawsuit stating that he was discriminated against based on his age.

The suit

The former police chief filed a lawsuit seeking in excess of $75,000. The complaint against the Village of Calumet includes several age discrimination complaints based on state and federal laws.

TV6 reports that at the age of 59, the former police chief started his job. According to records, he had to be recertified before receiving his post. Prior to working in the Village of Calumet, he had served as the police chief for another city for roughly 16 years.

Just a few months after starting his position, the police chief lost his job. The village council voted to terminate his position and hired a man in his 30s who had previously been rejected due to a lack of qualifications. Federal court records indicate that a comment from the council was that the former police chief who lost his job was "too old" to perform his task. Not only did the council hire a younger person, but records noted that the new police chief was paid $22,000 more.

What constitutes age discrimination?

In Michigan, there are two codes by which the behavior is defined: The federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act, which applies to workers who are 40 or older; and the Elliot-Larsen Civil Rights Act, which has no age limitations.

Generally, when an employee is treated unfavorably based on his or her age, discrimination may be alleged. That treatment could occur in any aspect of employment, such as hiring, firing, training, layoffs or benefits. Additionally, it is illegal to harass someone based on his or her age. For example, making offensive or derogatory remarks could be considered harassment.

Legal recourse

If someone believes that age discrimination has taken place, he or she may seek legal recourse. The first step, aside from filing a complaint with the employer's human resources department, is to file a complaint with either the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or the Michigan Department of Civil Rights.

Either of these agencies - which cooperate together to process claims - will investigate the issue and then provide the employee with a "right-to-sue" notice if its findings indicate that a lawsuit is appropriate. Once the notice is given, the employee has 90 days to initiate the lawsuit. However, waiting for the notice is not mandatory, and the employee may file a lawsuit within 60 days of filing the complaint.

These cases are often complex. Anyone who has questions about issues such as this should consult with an employment law attorney in Michigan.