We have written a lot about age discrimination, whether it is employers who use code words for “old” such as “long in the tooth,” or enforcement actions by the EEOC. In our posts, we have cautioned against employers using outdated stereotypes about older employees, the most common of which is the employer not wanting to invest in an older employee because they are only going to retire soon.
Most readers know that we have even kept a running list of all the cases we have found where direct evidence of age animus is shown by words or phrases which stand in for the word “old,” i.e., ancient; old school; “set in his ways”; not a proper fit for the “new environment;” lacking in energy. We even found “Hang up your Superman cape” and “get it together you f….ing old people.”
The columnist Joyce Lain Kennedy used the phrase “language workaround” for what we have called code for direct evidence of age discrimination.
Indeed, on September 17, 2013 we wrote: “Age cases would not be age cases if not for the vast number of creative ways employers refer to employees as ‘old.’”
Now comes one we had not seen before: a 56 year old school principal who claims that he was told by his superintendent that his contract was not renewed because – get this — “they just want somebody younger.”
That’s right – no code words, no euphemisms or ambiguous expressions – just the simple and direct truth. They wanted someone younger. Extraordinary!
The Court held that although direct evidence of age discrimination “may not always be sufficient to create a question of fact for trial,” nonetheless this statement about “someone younger,” if believed by the jury, “do[es] not require an inference to conclude that age was the but-for cause of the decision not to renew [his] contract.”
This one could have come from the good old fifties!