Thursday, February 14, 2013

Gateway Medical Center discriminated against older security guards

CLARKSVILLE, TENN. Feb 14 2013— A group of former and current security guard employees at Gateway Medical Center filed a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission claiming their employment was terminated in January 2012 because of their age .
On Feb. 1, the U.S. EEOC’s investigation determined that “Gateway terminated the charging party’s employment and the employment of other older security guards due to their age.”
The investigation further revealed that Gateway offered a severance agreement to older security guards in an effort to obtain a waiver of rights which failed to meet the requirements for waiver or rights and claims under the Age Discrimination Employment Act of 1967 and Gateway’s severance agreement violated the ADEA.
The EEOC suggested informal methods of conference, conciliation and persuasion, in their determination letter.
Benita Martin, spokeswoman at Gateway Medical Center released a statement about the matter.
“Gateway Medical Center is an equal opportunity employer and committed to employment practices that do not discriminate in accordance with all applicable government laws and regulations. Now that the EEOC has issued its preliminary decision, we move to the next phase of this process. We will not comment further while this matter is pending,” the statement said.
Carl Hollis, 51, is one of eight Gateway security employees who has sought legal representation to handle the age discrimination claim.
Hollis began working as a security guard at Gateway Medical Center in October 2005, had clean evaluations and was even was employee of the month in June 2010, according to his records.
On Jan. 29, 2012 Gateway terminated his employment stating there was an “elimination of the security department,” according to his official separation notice.
“They brought all 12 of us to human resources, sat us down and they had a little packet made up with a separation notice, a waiver to not blow the whistle,” Hollis said. “We didn’t sign it.”
According to Hollis’ separation notice he was permanently laid off because there was a lack of work. In a letter from the human resources director, it was stated Hollis’ position was eliminated because of “restructuring and/or reduction in force.”

Following the termination, the nine former guards filed a charge of discrimination with the EEOC stating “a consulting company suggested that Gateway replace guards over the age of 40 with guards that are under 35 years old.” The consulting company, Hospitals Security Services, that made the suggestion was then hired by Gateway to provide security at the hospital,” according to the claim.
On March 5, 2012, he and other former security guards received a letter from Gateway stating his employment had ceased due to the elimination of the security department and concerns were raised. He was offered the option to return to Gateway at the same pay rate, with the same benefits as well as back pay from Jan. 29 to March 5, 2012.
He and several others returned to work at Gateway, he said.
“We felt like we should go back,” Hollis said. “We all needed a paycheck.”
When they returned there was another security department in place- Hospital Security Services, he said. The nine still operated as Gateway security guards and were separate from HSS, Hollis said.
Hollis said he decided to end his employment with Gateway in Sept. 2012 due to several issues at Gateway.
“The principle is you can’t do people like this,” Hollis said. “If someone does something egregious and don’t want to do their job can them, but just because you think they’re too old that’s not right. I needed my job and I did a good job. ... This about more than just money. My reputation has been sullied. I was a much better employee than they were employers.


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