A woman in her 70s was working in a dentist's office, where she had been working for over 20 years, during which time there were no recorded disciplinary actions taken against her. In late December of 2010, she mentioned to her employer that she was contemplating retirement in the next few years. One day in mid-January of 2011, she asked to leave work early as she was feeling under the weather, not expecting to be fired for doing so.
That evening, the dentist called her home to inform her that she was no longer needed at the practice, and the dentist's husband would fill in for the office work. Later that month, the former employee learned that a much younger woman was hired to take her place. She felt that she had been a victim of age discrimination.
The court found, however, that she did not have sufficient evidence to prove that she had, in fact, been terminated in favor of hiring the younger employee. She also lost on appeal. For this reason, though the facts of the case seem to point certainly to wrongful termination, it is important to keep documentation to ensure that any evidence is irrefutable in order to show the court the details that contributed to termination.
For employees who feel that they have been wrongfully terminated, the decision to pursue action may be a difficult one. However, consulting an experienced attorney can help to determine if all of the necessary facts are accounted for and work for a resolution to this difficult situation.
Source: HR.com, "Was termination based on age, gender bias?" Jan. 7, 2013