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The Verdict is in: $241,119 Awarded in Age Discrimination Lawsuit

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Burlington, VTA Topsham, Vermont man has been awarded a large sum of money in an age discrimination lawsuit in which he claims he was denied a job as a town road foreman because of his age. The man, James "Bucky" Spooner was awarded $241,119 by an Orange County Superior Court jury as a result of his claim.

Spooner, 60 years old, had previously worked in road maintenance for 15 years and in 2001 had applied to become the road foreman for Topsham in 2001 after the decision of the longtime foreman and commissioner, Sydney Smith, to retire.

According to court documents, a 32-year-old man with considerably less experience was hired for the position after two members of the board deemed Spooner as being too old for the job. It was stated that Spooner would possibly not hold the job for the long-term because he would be of retirement age in a few years.

Old ForemanAfter three days of testimony and the presentation of evidence supporting Spooner's claims, the Jury reached their verdict on January 25th.

The amount that was awarded was the amount of money Spooner would have made on his paychecks had he been awarded the job in 2001. Spooner's attorney, Edwin Hobson, stated that Spooner would have much rather secured the position of road foreman than be awarded the large sum of money he received for his claim.

Topsham is looking to appeal the verdict. The town's attorney, Andrea Galitano said the town officials have been advised to not talk about the case while the consideration to appeal is being made. She said, "We're obviously disappointed in the verdict."

One man who identifies himself as JBT says, ""Was there not some way to resolve this in a way that everyone could be satisfied?" It is very likely it was tried - Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) which is some kind of mediation or Arbitration. Since the town is looking toward appealing the verdict, it sounds like they didn't like the results of the ADR."

What do others within the general public have to say about the verdict in this case? One citizen states, "Good for Bucky Spooner! How did the folks who did the hiring know any different about the 32- year-old man who was hired? Maybe he'd decide to leave after a couple of years too." He continues to say, "It's really sad. Here he gave 15 years to the community and did work on the side. He certainly showed his passion and caring for the job."

There are some within the community who feel the case is justified and then there are those who do not. Although the city has to deal with the cost that trickles down to the residents in the form of taxes, there are those who feel the decision of the board was wrong in that the hiring decision should have been based on job performance and not age. Then there are those who feel that evidence was not sufficient and that there could have been another way to solve the problem. That is a question many are asking, "Was there not some other way to resolve this in a way that could satisfy everyone?"

Age discrimination cases do not usually make it to trial in Vermont. However, according to Sandra Everitt, head of the civil rights division of the Attorney General's Office, she feels that the evidence was adequate that Spooner's age was a factor in the hiring process that resulted in him not securing the position and a less experienced worker being awarded the job. The public is asking many questions whether they feel the verdict was justified or not, but it will be the possible appeals process that may make or break the entire situation.


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