Lucent Technologies will pay $195,000 to settle an age discrimination lawsuit filed on behalf of a 55-year-old worker who lost his job after more than three decades with the telecommunications equipment maker, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said last week.
The EEOC filed suit last year on behalf of Thomas Cross. After 34 years with Lucent and its predecessor companies, Cross was laid off in 2002 from his job as an estimator in the company’s St. Louis Estimating Department.
The layoff came despite a history of good evaluations, including one just before Cross lost his job in which his work was rated “outstanding.” The lawsuit claimed Cross was let go while Lucent retained younger employees with “lower ratings.”
“Employment decisions must be based on ability and merit, not age,” said Jean Kamp, acting regional attorney for the EEOC office in St. Louis. “When corporate downsizings occur, employers must make sure that age discrimination is not a factor in dismissing older workers with records of outstanding service.”
Lucent spokeswoman Mary Ward said Cross was let go as part of a companywide work force reduction. “We’re not admitting any wrongdoing in this case,” Ward said. “We entered into this settlement just to put this matter behind us.”
In addition to the financial settlement, the EEOC said Lucent agreed to provide training on the Age Discrimination in Employment Act to managers, supervisors and human relations workers; distribute an anti-discrimination message to employees; report to the EEOC about any employee cuts during the next two years; and post a notice about the settlement.
Lucent, with headquarters in Murray Hill, New Jersey, is part of Paris-based Alcatel-Lucent, which employs 79,000 people in 130 countries.
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