Regional Director Called Subordinates “Grumpy Old Men” and Wanted a “Millennial Team”, Agency Alleges
Oh, Dollar General. Will you never learn?!
Nationwide retailer Dolgencorp, LLC, which does business as Dollar General, violated federal law by allowing a regional director to harass subordinate district managers based on their age and then fire those who complained about it, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed today.
According to the lawsuit, from July 2016 until January 2018, a Dollar General regional director in Oklahoma harassed district managers who were in their 50s and older by calling them “grumpy old men,” telling them he was building “a millennial team” and they needed “young blood” in the stores, threatening them to keep up with the “millennial team” or quit or be fired. After one of the district managers quit and reported the harassment to the company, Dollar General investigated the allegations but did not take effective measures to stop the regional director’s conduct. Emboldened, the regional director continued harassing older workers under his supervision and fired two district managers who told the company about his misconduct during the investigation. Eventually, another district manager was forced to quit because of the continual harassment.
Such alleged conduct violates the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), which protects workers who are 40 and older from discrimination and harassment based on age, as well as retaliation if they report such discrimination. The EEOC’s suit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Oklahoma (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Dolgencorp, LLC d/b/a Dollar General, Civil Action No. 6:21-cv-00295), alleges Dollar General violated the ADEA by subjecting the district managers to age-based harassment and then terminating them because of their age and in retaliation for speaking up about the harassment. The suit also alleges Dollar General is liable for the constructive discharge of the managers who were forced to quit because of the harassment. The EEOC seeks monetary relief for the district managers who lost their jobs, an order prohibiting future age harassment and retaliation, and other relief.
“Just like harassment based on sex or race, workplace harassment based on age is illegal,” said Andrea G. Baran, the EEOC’s regional attorney in St. Louis. “Employers must take serious, effective steps to ensure that employees, regardless of their age, can work in a setting free from discrimination and harassment.”
L. Jack Vasquez, Jr., director of the EEOC’s St. Louis District office, added, “Retaliation against workers who report harassment is not just unlawful, it’s short-sighted and bad for business. Retaliation is one of the most frequent complaints received by the EEOC, and protecting workers who oppose discrimination is one of the agency’s top priorities.”
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