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Virginia Man Brings Age-Discrimination Case, Claims Unfair Salary

Major differences in salary for a job can be a tactic for driving a worker out.

Major differences in salary for a job can be a tactic for driving a worker out.

Ever wonder how an employer might try and force an older worker out of a job and into early retirement?

Well, one way is via salary.

Take the case of Rodrick D. Christian in the state of Virginia. Christian, 63, was a sales manager at a Subaru dealership who recently filed a claim against his former employer Cole Automotive. Christian claims that he was fired and discriminated against because he complained about disparate salaries between himself and two other managers. Christian alleges that the two colleagues, who are much younger than he is, had essentially the same job but are being paid much higher compensation.

Details of the case are profiled in an article in the West Virignia Record. From the article:

While employed by the company, Christian says he performed stellar work. For example, the Cole Subaru dealership was named the gold winner in Subaru’s Sales Manager Circle of Excellence Program in 2006, the suit states.

“This award is determined by which dealership has the highest percentage of its objective goal; and the dealership over which plaintiff was Sales Manager was 21.5%,” the complaint says.

On Jan. 1, 2007, Cole Automotive changed the way it began paying its sales managers, according to the complaint.

“Under this new calculation, while prior to January 1, 2007, each of the three COLE Automotive Sales Managers earned approximately the same amount, using 2006 figures, under the new formula, the Nissan Sales Manager would make $100,737; the Honda Sales Manager would make $108,786; and plaintiff, as the Sales Manager of Subaru, would earn only $44,744,” the complaint says.

In addition, the Nissan sales manager had no prior experience before his promotion, Christian claims.

Christian contends Cole Automotive paid him less than his co-workers because he is 63 and the other sales managers are in their late 30s and early 40s.

“These changes, both in plaintiff’s salary structure, as well as the designation of the Nissan Sales Manager, were designed to force plaintiff to resign from his position at COLE Automotive due to his age,” the suit states.

That’s nearly a $60,000 difference even though the dealership had performed well under his management in the past. After a few complaints to management about the salary differences, Christian was terminated, the article says. Christian also claims the differences in salary were set up to provoke him to resign from the job.

A recent ruling from the Supreme Court on age bias and discrimination may make Rodrick Christian’s case more challenging to win. According to the ruling, plaintiffs must now prove age discrimination was the primary factor, not just part of the reason for termination.

More career advice on dealing with age on resumes, interviews and networking:

[Image by borman818 via Flickr CC 2.0]

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