Iowa Man’s Age Discrimination Lawsuit Nears Trial

March 3, 2008

A Mount Vernon man’s age discrimination lawsuit against Bankers Life and Casualty Co. and his former boss is scheduled to go to trial next month.

Doug Smith alleges in his lawsuit filed in October 2005 in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Iowa that his employer violated the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act.

Smith, now 58, claims he was fired in August 2004 because of his age, and that during his termination meeting his boss told him “You’re older than I am. You’re up there where you can retire, and I need the money more than you.”

According to the lawsuit, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission issued a Notice of Right-to-Sue and the Iowa Civil Right Commission issued an administrative release during the summer of 2005, allowing the lawsuit to proceed.

Smith claims that when he was promoted to a unit sales manager in February 2003 he began working under Dennis Riley, who told him to hire younger people. Smith claims that Riley made comments such as younger people “had more energy” and that “young blood is better.” Smith said that Riley also questioned him and became upset when Smith hired older workers.

During a business trip in the summer of 2004, Smith said that Riley told him he got rid of two managers in another office because they had diabetes. Smith said he told Riley that he also had diabetes, and that at one point Riley asked “How much longer are you going to hang in there?” and added “You do have health issues, you know.”

Smith said that Riley also told him that he had cut the schedule of a Quad Cities area administrator to 29 hours per week and took away her benefits because, “I want a younger lady in there,” and in hopes that she would quit. Smith said the woman did resign and that Riley hired a younger woman with no experience at 29 hours a week plus benefits.

Smith claimed that he received no training as unit sales manager, and that for the first time in his career he had complaints filed against him with the Iowa insurance commissioner. He said most of the complaints were based on the action of the new agents he was training.

Smith said his boss would receive notice of the complaints and respond on Smith’s behalf without telling him.

When he was fired, Smith said Riley told him either Smith had to go or himself so that the insurance commissioner would not investigate the office any further.

Smith was seeking compensation for various injuries and damages to himself, punitive damages against the company, attorneys fees and other costs related to the lawsuit, and other compensation allowed under age discrimination laws.

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