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Allen M., Esq.
Allen M., Esq., Employment Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 15462
Experience:  Employment/Labor Law Litigation
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Im a 54 yr old sales rep for AT&T. I was dismissed Friday

Customer Question

I'm a 54 yr old sales rep for AT&T. I was dismissed Friday June 30. Top producer in 2012 (260%) Leading producer in 2013 (133%). In Dec 2012 50% of my fellow sellers were taken out of the field and put in a call center. I had to hand off most of my 120 accounts here in SC were given to another sales person and I was given a total of 32 accounts 13 in Memphis (all of which were dead). and a slew of others in 8 other states. only 9 accounts remained in SC. Of course ATT has teams in each of these states although I am racking up a monthly travel bill of between $3,000 and $5,000 which is unusual as we are mostly geographly located.

In March of 2013 I was directed to get a customer satisfaction form to a customer in Memphis, it was impressed on me that the customer must give us a 9 or 10 nothing else is acceptable and if I did not get this rating I would have to explain to my 3rd level manger and if this continued I would be subject to disaplinary action including dismissal.

The contacts at this customer (Memphis Grizzlies) were fired before I could deliver the form. so I filled it out and mailed it. AT&T asked me if I did this and I said yes. My manager repeatedly told me that this would not go past my 1st level sales manager and that I was in the clear. The ATT investigator told me people had stold from the company and done much worse things and not been let go. So based on this I signed a letter saying I took reponcibility.

My concern is that I was really fired for making too much money and being older. I have topped out the commision structure, I do 100% match on my 401K, family of 4 uses Health care and I am collecting a pension (new hires do not get pension).

Do I have any legal legs here?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Employment Law
Expert:  Allen M., Esq. replied 1 year ago.

Thank you for your question today, I look forward to assisting you. I bring nearly 20 years of legal experience in various disciplines.

 

Do you know any of these people that did much worse and were not fired? Were they younger than you?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.


I have no first hand knowledge, this was stated by the AT&T investigator.

Expert:  Allen M., Esq. replied 1 year ago.

Ok. Here is the problem, as I see it.

 

First, what the ATT investigator told you, in order to get you to sign the form, isn't really legally relevant or binding on the company. There is not obligation for them to be truthful in their investigation process. In fact, even police can outright lie to a subject in order to get them to confess (though I've always had a problem with that rule).

 

The next issue is that you have no personal knowledge of anyone younger than you that has been treated better. Your argument, if you were to make an age discrimination claim, would have to be disparate treatment....which simply means that you have evidence that you were treated more harshly than people younger than you that committed worse offenses and the only reasonable explanation from those facts would be that the employer did so because of your age. To make that argument, you need to be able to point to situations where younger people were treated better and if you have no personal knowledge of those situations, it's going to be difficult to indicate those cases to an EEOC investigator.

 

Finally, you'll note that I've focused just on the age claim. That is because terminating someone for being highly paid is not illegal in any state or in federal law. It's a completely legal basis to target employees for termination, so it doesn't help you any.

 

So, to sum up here, you can certainly file an EEOC complaint alleging age discrimination, but you're going to have a very difficult time establishing disparate treatment without clear evidence of younger people similarly situated to you which were treated differently, making it appear to have been motivated by age.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.


From your experience do you have a feeling as to what the real motivation for my dismissal was : i.e. my indescresion or does this look like a classic pattern to squeeze out a higher cost employee?

Expert:  Allen M., Esq. replied 1 year ago.

That's not really a question that I'm ever able to answer without having gone through the entire process of an EEOC investigation.

 

On the facts you've given me, I see no glaring indication of discrimination. To me, just on the facts you've given, it seems totally reasonable that the employer is using the excuse of your indiscretion to cut a high cost employee. I think that's a very reasonable interpretation of the facts and, if that is their motivation, it's a legal (if not moral) motivation.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.


Thank you, I am regretfull and understand i broke an important guidline. Certainly have made some personal changes. Any advise on clearing my reputation with ATT? I'm concerned about information that may be shared with companies I interview with in the future? I guess I am asking if ATT can tell folks I was dismissed because Im a ethical misfit?

Expert:  Allen M., Esq. replied 1 year ago.

There isn't really anything that you can do to force them not to tell prospective employers. The law doesn't restrict them from saying anything that is true.

 

They are only legally restricted from making false statements concerning you.

 

Now, most employers simply choose not to give any additional information beyond your employment dates, position, etc. That is the norm, but again, the employer is not legally restricted from telling prospective employers true facts.

Allen M., Esq., Employment Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 15462
Experience: Employment/Labor Law Litigation
Allen M., Esq. and 7 other Employment Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

if I can provide examples of persons younger than me doing simular or worse infractions, would I want to pursue a mediation or some other remedy?

Expert:  Allen M., Esq. replied 1 year ago.

You would need to contact the EEOC in your state to preserve your right to sue. If you don't go through that administrative process, you actually lose the right to sue in court.

 

Now, the end result may be that you enter into a mediation through the EEOC, but that is your first step.

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