Yesterday I persuaded a jury of six men and women to award $193,000 to my client, a 74-year old former waitress who alleged she and several other older workers were swiftly fired when new owners took over a buffet restaurant. The jury awarded her approximately $97,000 for past and future wage loss, which was every penny I asked for. I also asked the jury to find that the discrimination was willful and to double the award (which the law gives the jury the power to do). And it did, bringing the total verdict to just under $200,000.00.
My client worked at the restaurant as a waitress from 2005 to 2012 under the original owners. In early 2013, new owners bought the restaurant and then fired a number of older servers. The lawsuit alleged that those workers, at least one of whom was born in the 1930’s, were fired to make room for much younger employees. My client, who is as sweet as they come, had lived a hardscrabble life as a waitress. Her husband of forty years has passed away just weeks before she was fired, so the firing – at age 71 – was a devastating economic hit. In fact, she drove to the courthouse for the trial in her husband’s 20-year old Toyota, which she drives because she cannot afford anything else. I presented evidence during the trial that she had tried hard to find replacement work, applying at dozens of places after her firing, but did not get a single job offer. But that isn’t surprising, given the prevalence of ageism in hiring decisions. It’s bad enough if you’re in your 50’s, and worse in your 60’s. But age can become an impenetrable wall for those 70 and older, many of whom are still outstanding employees with tremendous and invaluable life and career experience.
It was a great day for justice.
The case is Taylor v. T and D Food Tallahassee, d/b/a New Times Country Buffet, Case No. 37-2014-00098 (Fla. 2nd Jud. Circuit filed Jan 13. 2014)
Categories: Age Discrimination