A federal appellate court has reintroduced a lawsuit for age discrimination filed by a worker who was the alleged victim of a “relentless and ruthless” age-based harassment campaign, according to a divided opinion.
Sam Stamey, who installed cables in load trailers at Forest River Inc.’s factory in Elkhart, Indiana, for more than 10 years, was met by up to 1,000 age-based insults from employees, as well as measures including having his toolbox taped or glued again and his workstation destroyed, according to Friday’s ruling by the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago in Sam Stamey v. Forest River, Inc.
After efforts to get the management to adequately address the situation failed, he resigned from his job in August 2018 at the age of 62 and sued the company in the US District Court in South Bend, Indiana, accused of crime against the law on age discrimination in employment.
The district court upheld Forest River’s request for a summary judgment, concluding that Mr. Stamey could not show that his working conditions were so unacceptable that “a reasonable person could have been forced to resign.”
The verdict was overturned by the Court of Appeal in a 2-1 verdict. The majority opinion said that Mr. According to the theory of “constructive discharge”, Stamey states that the company “effectively fired him by exposing him to unbearable age-based discrimination.”
“This is a major obstacle for Stamey to clear,” the statement said, citing a previous statement., because he must first show that “working conditions are even more difficult than what is required for a hostile working environment.”
The majority opinion concludes that Mr. Stamey has overcome that barrier. The “incessant alleged verbal harassment” as well as the disturbances in his workplace “eventually had physical effects on Stamey”, including inability to sleep, shake hands, upset stomach and feel “depressed and humiliated”, it said.
“If it credits Stamey’s account, a jury can compile all of this evidence and conclude that his work permit was serious enough to give rise to a constructive discharge,” the statement said.
A “rational jury could also conclude that a sensible person in his position would have thought it pointless to continue seeking help from Forest River,” it said.
“If we draw all the conclusions in Stamey’s favor, which we have to make in summary judgment, a rational jury may also conclude that a reasonable person in his position would have thought it pointless to continue seeking help for Forest River.” said the opinion when the summary was provided. judgment and remand of the case to trial.
The dissenting opinion said that the age-related harassment as Mr. Stamey reported “although offensive and very regrettable did not qualify as so unacceptable that it would have forced a reasonable employee to quit.”
Mr Stamey “also did not do enough to help Forest River put a stop to the actions of his staff, and he left before his employers could do more for him,” it said.
Mr. Stamey’s attorney, Elkhart, Indiana-based Patrick F. O’Leary, said in a statement that his client “is very grateful to the Court of Appeal for allowing him to have his day in court. We feel that justice has been done.” Forest River’s attorney had no comment.
Earlier this month, a federal appeals court overturned a lower court ruling, holding that a bank’s retired, 64-year-old senior vice president had provided sufficient evidence to survive a summary judgment dismissing his case of age discrimination.