A Market Basket employee alleges that the supermarket chain promoted younger workers over himself after the state’s Human Rights Commission (HRC) found probable cause for his age-related grievances. The DeMoulas Supermarkets Inc., owner of the chain, denied the allegations in court, saying that the man was eventually promoted.
Rodney Martinez was 62 in January 2020, when he filed his Human Rights claim. He had worked for the company since 2012, claiming that although he was classified as a part-time employee, he usually ended up working full-time hours without full-time benefits, such as paid vacation and sick leave, bonuses, profit sharing and access to dental insurance. (Martinez said he was working in Manchester, but DeMoulas said he was working in the produce department in the Londonderry store.)
“I was stunned,” he said in the complaint. “I had no plans to retire in the near future. … Anyone can drop dead at any time regardless of age.”
According to the HRC decision, five out of six Market Basket employees promoted were under 36 in 2017, 14 of 15 employees were under 34 in 2018 and in 2019, 13 out of 16 promoted employees were under 38. “Complainant offered sufficient evidence to demonstrate Respondent treated him differently based on his age,” the HRC concluded.
If you are 40+ years old an employer may not take any adverse employment actions against you because of your age. This includes:
- Refusing to hire you
- Terminating, discharging, or laying you off
- Refusing to promote you
- Paying you lower wages or giving you fewer benefits, or discriminating against you in any other term or condition of employment.
An employer may have violated the law if your age was the reason or one of the reasons for the action taken against you.
If you were terminated and replaced because of your age, your replacement does not have to be under 40 in order for you to have a valid claim.
However, an employer does not necessarily violate the law merely because it terminated you in favor of someone younger, or hires or promotes someone younger instead of you.
Your employer generally may not require you to retire at a certain age. There are exceptions to this rule for certain public employees and for certain high-compensated executives.
Waiver of Rights
Employees are sometimes asked to sign statements releasing their employers from any liability they may have for violating age discrimination laws. If you are asked to sign such a statement, you may wish to consult an attorney.
However, you should know such waivers may not be enforceable unless certain conditions are met. Some of the conditions are:
- The waiver must be clear and understandable.
- The employer has to be offering you something in return (such as increased severance benefits).
- The waiver must specifically refer to the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) and G.L. c.151B.
- The employer must advise you that you can consult a lawyer, give you 21 days to consider the agreement, and give you 7 days to revoke it even after you have signed.
- If you are part of a group layoff, under federal law your employer may have to provide you with even more time (45 days) to consider any waiver of rights. In addition, your employer may have to give you certain information, including the ages of the employees being laid off and the ages of the employees being retained.
Contact the Law Offices of Renee Lazar at 978-844-4095 to schedule a FREE case evaluation if you should be experiencing age discrimination at your workplace.