California Employee Discrimination Suit Nets $4.75 Million Award


Sacramento, CA: A California employee discrimination lawsuit has resulted in a multimillion-dollar award for the plaintiff, who alleged her job termination was the result of age and gender discrimination. The plaintiff, Barbara Anderton, filed the lawsuit against Bass Underwriters in 2013 and according to the Sacramento Bee (10/15/15), recently received a $4.75 million award.

In 2013, Anderton was 61 years old and reportedly one of the highest earners at Bass Underwriters, where she worked for almost 15 years. She alleged in her lawsuit that she was fired and replaced by a younger male employee. Bass responded to the allegations saying Anderton quit her job because of a family dispute - her brother is an executive vice president at Bass Underwriters.

But a jury agreed with Anderton, and found Bass Underwriters not only discriminated against Anderton, but also harassed her and retaliated against her because she is female and 61 years old. The jury then awarded her $2.75 million in punitive damages and $2 million in compensatory damages.

A study conducted by the National Bureau of Economic Research (and cited by BloombergBusiness [10/26/15]) suggests that age discrimination is still a widespread problem in the United States, especially for older women. The study involved three researchers sending fictional resumes for a variety of jobs, with the ages of the “workers” changed. Researchers found that the rate of callbacks was higher for younger job applicants than older ones, and the highest level of discrimination was reportedly seen in older women.

Age discrimination is illegal under state and federal laws. Employers are prohibited from making employment decisions on the basis of a person’s age or gender. But that doesn’t always stop employers from taking discriminatory actions. In such cases, employees can file an employment discrimination lawsuit against their employer.

According to court documents, that’s what Maria Sicola did when she filed a $40 million age and gender discrimination lawsuit. That lawsuit was filed in New York, but Sicola worked in the company’s California office and alleges she was fired one day before her 60th birthday and replaced with a younger male colleague. Sicola had reportedly worked for her employer for around 35 years.

Additionally, Sicola’s lawsuit alleges she was harassed by a male colleague but her employer failed to take action on her complaints, and was denied promotions and pay raises because she is a woman. In the lawsuit, Sicola alleges her employers repeatedly promoted less qualified male employees while not supporting Sicola.

Sicola’s lawsuit is Maria Sicola v. Cushman & Wakefield Inc., in the Supreme Court of the State of New York (no case number currently available).

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