EZ Trip Settles EEOC Age Bias Suit for Refusal to Hire Qualified Older Job Applicants

Older Applicants Passed Over for Cashier Positions in Favor of Younger Candidates, Federal Agency Charged

FRESNO — The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)announced on 01/20/2011 the settlement of its lawsuit against Timeless Investments, Inc., doing business as EZ Trip Golden State Convenience and Auto/Truck Plaza, resolving claims that the Fresno, Calif.-based company failed to hire older job applicants for its convenience store due to age discrimination.

The allegations date back to 2004, when a group of older job seekers in their 60s applied for jobs as cashiers at the EZ Trip Golden State convenience store in Fresno. According to the EEOC, the older applicants were separately instructed to write their ages on the top corner of their respective employment applications. They were ultimately denied employment in favor of other candidates under the age of 35, two of whom had no prior cashier experience. The EEOC asserts that the older applicants were ultimately denied employment due to their age, a direct violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA).

The EEOC filed suit against the company in September 2008 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California (EEOC v. Timeless Investments, Inc. dba EZ Trip Golden State Convenience and Auto/Truck Plaza, Case No. 1:08-CV-01469-AWI-SMS) after pre-litigation efforts to resolve the matter were unsuccessful. The parties entered into a three-year consent decree resulting broad, sweeping injunctive relief and an $11,500 payment to one of the claimants. The decree requires EZ Trip to:

retain an outside EEO consultant to ensure compliance with the consent decree and provide assistance with the ADEA;

provide annual training on age bias to management and hourly employees;

implement provisions against age discrimination to include prohibiting the age inquiry of applicants at the time of application;

increase recruiting efforts toward older candidates by advertising in publications read by individuals over the age of 40;

hold employees accountable for engaging in discrimination;

post a notice on the matter visible by employees; and

submit annual reports regarding these efforts to the EEOC for the duration of the decree.

“We commend EZ Trip’s efforts in implementing remedies to ensure equal employment opportunities to older workers,” said Anna Y. Park, regional attorney of the EEOC’s Los Angeles District Office. “Age stereotyping continues to remain a problem, and we hope employers proactively ensure that impediments are removed to allow older workers to apply for jobs equally.”

Melissa Barrios, local director of the EEOC’s Fresno Local Office, added, “Older candidates often have a level of work and life experience that can be extremely valuable to prospective employers. Employers need to check their own biases and concentrate on seeking the best qualified candidate for the job at hand, irrespective of age. As that is not always the case, the EEOC is here to help.”

The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.