In January, a 78-year-old receptionist was named “Employee of the Year.” In February, she was fired.


This sounds like something that might interest the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Oh, wait. Would you look at this EEOC press release? It seems her employer may have engaged in age and disability discrimination. Let’s see why the EEOC believes this:

(I mean, other than “duh!”)

According to the lawsuit, the receptionist, who was recognized as one of [the employer’s] employees of the year in January 2022, was employed by the company for over 14 years until her sudden termination in February 2022. In that month, the receptionist was briefly hospitalized. Upon her release from the hospital, the receptionist was asked by [the company’s] general manager how long she planned to continue to work, whether she needed to work, and whether she would like to spend her time traveling and seeing family instead of working.

Despite the receptionist’s insistence that she intended to continue working, and despite having never previously raised any substantial performance concerns to the receptionist, the general manager told the receptionist that [the company] no longer had confidence in her ability to work, citing her recent hospitalization. The company fired her the next day and replaced her with significantly younger employees.

Remember that these are just allegations and not necessarily facts. Still, for the company’s sake, I hope they have plenty of contemporaneous documentation supporting a 180-degree downturn in the employee’s performance over those thirty days that could justify an abrupt termination.

That, or they caught her converting the third-floor men’s bathroom into a meth lab. But that seems unlikely. It took Gustavo Fring what seemed like months to convert the laundry subbasement before drug production began.

Otherwise, this employer may have a problem explaining why its general manager supposedly questioned a 78-year-old employee who just returned from the hospital about her employment plans with the company.

This is pure speculation on my part, but perhaps the company wanted her to resign and take a severance package. So they tried to go down that road with her and she wasn’t interested.

Either way, this is not a good look. Neither was replacing her with significantly younger employees.

So, it appears the company terminated a “high-performing and long-tenured employee on the unfounded assumption that her age and medical condition would prevent her from doing her job,” according to the EEOC.

Yes, stereotyping age and disabilities is a bad idea.

The district director of the EEOC’s Atlanta office also noted, “The right to decide a retirement age lies with an employee, not their employer. Moreover, an employer may not use an actual or perceived disability as license to deem an employee unqualified for their position.”

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