San Diego maintenance worker claims age discrimination in lawsuit

Frank S. Clowney III

San Diego’s most experienced workers should be among its most valued workers. Older workers often possess the ability to spot problems needing correction. Organizations should welcome the opinions offered by those demonstrating dedication and commitment to doing a job well. Unfortunately, sometimes constructive criticism is not well received by upper management. In fact, a worker who points out a problem may become the target of workplace discrimination.

In July 2012, a 61-year-old man who held the job title of a skilled maintenance worker filed a suit against the La Mesa-Spring Valley School District. The maintenance worker’s grievance stems from his belief that he is the victim of both retaliation for whistle-blowing and age discrimination.

The man filed a California Occupational Safety and Health Administration complaint in May 2011, saying that he worked in unsafe environments containing lead paint and asbestos. He alleges the school district failed to administer training appropriate to the hazardous task. Subsequent to the filing, the man claims he was passed over for promotions, which were then given to younger, less-skilled applicants.

Lawyers representing the school district deny the charges. They say that the district’s personnel decisions were not discriminatory in nature. They also say the man did not follow proper complaint guidelines pursuant to his contract. Mediation has been court-ordered and should last into April. If the case does end up going to trial the date is scheduled for July.

Proving workplace discrimination can be an arduous task to take on alone. Challenging an employer creates stress on the job and on personal finances. Often, employers set very specific procedures for filing grievances.

Should you find yourself in the position where you suspect you are the victim of discrimination, you need know your legal options. Sound legal advice can clarify the specifics of dealing with an employer.

Source: La Mesa Courier, “Whistle-blower files law suit,” Ken Stone, Jan. 30, 2014