The eight-person jury in Philadelphia federal court came to a unanimous decision after a one-week trial: they concluded that former manager Stephen Middlebrooks was retaliated against and subject to a retaliatory hostile work environment by Teva Pharmaceuticals for complaining about age and national origin, which means bias against American workers. According to his attorneys at Console Mattiacci Law, the jury awarded: $200,000 for emotional distress damages; $332,000 in back pay; $450,000 in front pay; liquidated damages of $332,000 and punitive damages of $5,000,000.
Middlebrooks was hired by Teva in 2001 and by 2014 he had climbed up the ladder to senior director of facility management for a new North American division. At the same time, his new Israeli manager, who was 13 years younger than Middlebrooks, asked him his age--Middlebrooks was 57 at the time-- and also asked when he planned to retire, the lawsuit claims. (The court was disturbed by the reports of questions from Israel-based managers about age and retirement plans.)
According to the court filing, the new manager gave Middlebrooks a negative performance review. A few months later, two Israel-based managers came to Teva’s office for a meeting with his team—after which one employee filed a complaint of age discrimination and another complained about a hostile work environment. An internal investigation, conducted by Teva’s U.S. director of human resources, followed and it recommended that the Israel-based managers receive “cultural and sensitivity training,” including instruction on U.S. employment law, which prohibits discrimination based on age or nationality.
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Employment lawyer Sid Steinberg wrote in the Legal Intelligencer that this case, and the court’s decision to let it go to a jury trial, “serves as caution that international employers with American operations must abide by American employment law.”
According to the California labor code, age discrimination happens when an employee or job applicant over the age of 40 receives less favorable treatment because of their age. Despite stringent California employment discriminations laws, age discrimination is rampant – one reason being an increasingly aging population. If you have been unfairly treated due to your age, or for that matter any form of discrimination, your employer may have violated the law and you might want to seek legal help.