06/24/2020 | News release | Archived content
But in this recent case, a court ruled that a manager's biased comment had nothing to do with an employee's termination.
Too old to do his job?
Andre Williams worked for Waste Management Inc. when he spoke to his supervisor about a possible accommodation for an ailment.
Williams' supervisor allegedly asked on multiple occasions if he was 'too old' to do his job anymore.
When Williams later failed to report to work when he was scheduled three times, Waste Management fired Williams. He sued, claiming he was fired not because of attendance issues, but because of his age - and he referenced his supervisor's comment as evidence.
But the 5th Circuit disagreed (Williams v. Waste Management, Inc.). First, it said Waste Management had a legitimate reason to fire Williams - he missed three shifts.
The court also said the supervisor who made the comment about Williams' age was not the ultimate decision-maker in his termination. In this instance, the comment was not enough to establish age bias.
While the company won this case, it is important for supervisors to be very careful about what they say - just one offhand biased comment can cause a lot of legal trouble.