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NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory settles age discrimination lawsuit for $10M

A massive age discrimination settlement shows that even government agencies are capable of mistreating their employees based on how old they are. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), based outside of Los Angeles, has agreed to pay $10 million to settle a lawsuit brought against it on behalf of dozens of former employees. The lawsuit accused JPL of discriminating against employees who were over 40 years old.

Forty is a relatively young age to be subjected to workplace age discrimination. But any time an employer refuses to hire a qualified job candidate solely because of her age, or whenever workers are fired, demoted, or mistreated due to being above a certain age, it is discriminating against those employees and applicants.

Laid off after 40

In this case, former employees accused JPL of laying them off sometime after they turned 40 and replacing them with younger people. Calling it a systematic scheme to replace older workers going back at least a decade, they turned to the U.S. Equal Employee Opportunity Commission (EEOC). In turn, the EEOC sued JPL, which the two agencies have now settled.

The $10 million will go into a fund to compensate the laid-off JPL employees. To prevent similar discrimination in the future, JPL will undergo compliance monitoring for three years, hire a diversity director, and provide age discrimination training to its staff.

Fight back against workplace age discrimination

When someone learns they have been the victim of age discrimination at work, they are probably not the only one. Companies set up discriminatory policies against older employees for various reasons. But with few exceptions, discrimination against workers based on being older is against California and federal law. Taking legal action, with the assistance of a qualified employment law attorney, can compensate you for the harm to your career, and prevent it from happening to others.