The Fifth Circuit has recognized that a hostile work environment claim can exist under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act. The Fifth Circuit has never reached such a conclusion before now. In Dediol v. Best Chevrolet, Inc., the Federal appellate court reversed a grant of summary judgment in favor of the employer.
The Court found that such a claim would include the following elements: 1) the employee is over the age of 40, 2) the employee was subject to harassment based on age – either through actions or words, 3) the harassment is severe enough that it creates an objectively intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment, and 4) the employer is liable in some way. See decision. Mr. Dediol was 65 years old while he worked for Best Chevrolet. Typically, the employer would be liable if it became aware of the harassment and failed to take action or if a supervisor conducted the harassment against the worker.
In this case, Mr. Dediol showed that his supervisor called him names such as "Old mother f*****," "old man," and "pops" several times everyday for eight weeks. The manager also made negative comments about the employee’s faith. Mr. Dediol was a born-again Christian. The plaintiff eventually quit coming to work.
Evidence showed that that the supervisor charged at the plaintiff at a staff meeting, threatened to "kick his a**." He removed his shirt saying, "You don’t know who you’re talking to. See these scars. I was shot and in jail"
Mr. Dediol quit coming to work and was then terminated. The Fifth Circuit found that this was sufficient evidence to support a claim for constructive discharge. That is unusual. The Fifth Circuit rarely sees a situation it considers sufficiently severe to justify an employee resignation.