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Age discrimination, retaliation claimed by 21-year-old

Unfortunately, many older workers in Texas are discriminated against because of their age. A suit that was recently filed in another state, however, takes a different turn from the usual age discrimination allegations in the fact that the former employee claims she was discriminated against because she was too young. The employer, an interior-design company, fired her after she spoke to management about this and several other issues she found offensive -- an allegation which also puts her complaint in the realm of a retaliation suit.

According to the terminated employee, she was hired as an office manager, but she was called 'the kid,' 'the office girl,' 'a 21-year-old nobody' and was referred to as someone who was stupid and had no common sense. The suit claims that derogatory remarks were also made about her religion, Islam, and that a co-worker sexually harassed her by making an inappropriate and sexually offensive advance towards her. She alleges that the co-worker spoke to her through an open door while he was urinating in a public restroom and told her to bring a change of clothes and come over to his house. 

When the employee complained to management about the co-worker's remark made through the open restroom door, she was told 'that's just the way he is' and she was later fired because of the 'continued conflict' with the co-worker. The complaint alleges that she was sexually harassed, discriminated against because of her age and religion, and fired in retaliation for complaining to management about these issues. A local newspaper reporting on the case said that the company named in the suit had not returned a call for comment.

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) was originally developed to protect workers who are 40 or older, but complaints of ageism filed by younger workers are not unheard of. In this case, the employer must also defend against allegations of sexual harassment and retaliation. No employee, in Texas or elsewhere, should be expected o tolerate an offensive and abusive workplace environment, and a complaint made to management should never be brushed off the way this one appears to have been.

Source: mycentraljersey.com, "Ex-employee files suit against Somerset business claiming discrimination," Sergio Bichao, July 22, 2013

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