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NYC Litigation Blog

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Sacramento Jury Awards $4.75 Million in Age/Gender Discrimination Suit

What constitutes bias in employee termination?

Barbara Anderton has won a case against Bass Underwriters in which she claimed that her dismissal from the company in 2013 was a result of age and gender bias.  A Sacramento jury awarded her $4.75 million in damages, $2.75 million in punitive damages and $2 million in compensation.

In spite of the fact that the plaintiff had been a very successful broker at the firm for almost 15 years, earning a six-figure salary, she was terminated and replaced by a younger male colleague. In Anderton's lawsuit, she claimed that the company discriminated against her because of her age (61) and her gender.

What Constitutes Discrimination in the Workplace?

Bass attorneys have denied her claim, stating that Anderton walked off the job as the result of a "family dispute," noting that her brother is an executive vice-president of the organization. Nonetheless, a Sacramento jury decided the case in her favor, ruling that she was discriminated against and harassed because she was a woman and because she was nearing retirement age, and that Bass had violated California's Fair Employment and Housing Act.

The prevalence of discrimination in the workplace is well-substantiated. The fact that such behavior is illegal, as well as immoral, does not appear to keep it from occurring. Anderton's reportage of a "boys' club culture" is a common complaint at many places of business, as is the ugly reality of age discrimination.  According to Anderton, she was repeatedly asked her age and questioned about when she was planning to retire. In addition, she was retaliated against for questioning policies that promoted men over women in the company, and excluded women from events like golfing excursions.

Despite the jury's decision, Bass denies any wrongdoing, stating that they need not review or change any of their employment policies. They plan to appeal the verdict.


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