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78-Year-Old Receptionist Wins 78K in Discrimination Lawsuit


A Georgia woman is set to receive a $78,000 from her former employer as part of an age and disability discrimination lawsuit settlement. Shirley Noble was dismissed from her receptionist position at age 78 in 2022 by her employer. Noble had been employed by Covenant Woods Retirement Community since 2007 and was even named employee of the year in 2022, only to lose her job a month later.

EEOC Lawsuit Alleges Wrongful Termination After Hospitalization

In the lawsuit, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) claimed that the company dismissed the long-tenured receptionist shortly after a brief hospitalization on February 10th.

Noble was hospitalized following a high blood pressure incident at work, which she attributed to dehydration. After being released two days later, she visited Covenant Woods to inform her colleagues and residents that she was feeling better and would be returning to work as scheduled.

Upon arriving, she discovered a new employee, nearly 30 years her junior, handling her receptionist duties. Moments later, she was allegedly summoned to meet with the general and office managers. They informed her that they had lost confidence in her abilities. During the meeting, Noble was presented with three options:

  1. Work the receptionist role only on Sundays
  2. Be transferred to an unspecified position in an unspecified department
  3. Accept a "volunteer ambassador" role without pay

Noble met with her managers again the following day. Attorneys alleged that Noble requested an additional 30 days in the receptionist position to "address any concerns about her performance." However, she was reportedly informed that the opportunity to continue as a receptionist was no longer available. Noble declined the alternative roles offered, and a termination letter was issued the next day.

On June 3rd, Noble received a letter from managers stating that the February 10th event had raised a "safety concern," which led them "to make the difficult change." Additionally, attorneys argued that two individuals, significantly younger than Noble, handled her responsibilities when she had previously managed them alone.

BrightSpace Chief Financial Officer Brian Hendricks clarified that Covenant Woods and BrightSpace Senior Living settled the case "due to the cost of litigation" and did not "admit to any wrongdoing or discriminatory conduct." Hendricks further emphasized that "Covenant Woods and BrightSpace Senior Living are committed to adhering to all discrimination, labor, and employment laws." Covenant Woods has agreed to take steps to make sure it meets its obligations under the ADEA and the ADA moving forward.

“Employers have a responsibility to evaluate an employee’s performance without regard to age, if the employee is 40 and over, and without regard to an actual or perceived disability,” said Marcus G. Keegan, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Atlanta District Office.

What Are the Signs of Employment Discrimination?

The EEOC protects workers from employment discrimination. Workplace discrimination can be based on factors such as race, color, sex, religion, national origin, age, disability, sexual identity, or genetic information.

Examples of employment discrimination include, but aren't limited to:

  • Age discrimination: Refusing to hire or promote an individual solely based on their age, particularly if they are 40 years or older, as seen in Noble's case.
  • Disability discrimination: Treating an employee unfairly because they have a disability. This can include failing to provide reasonable accommodations, harassment, or retaliation.
  • Unequal pay: Providing different salary or benefits packages to employees performing the same job with equivalent qualifications and experience due to their age, gender, race, or other protected characteristics.
  • Harassment: Creating a hostile work environment through unwelcome conduct, such as derogatory comments or offensive behavior, aimed at an employee based on their age, disability, or other protected characteristics.

Treated Unfairly at Work? Dial (713) 352-3433

If you are experiencing any form of discrimination at work, you can file a formal job discrimination complaint with the EEOC. Additionally, you can get in touch with our dedicated employee discrimination attorneys at Shellist Lazarz Slobin.

We proudly advocate for our clients facing various discrimination issues, including age discrimination, wrongful termination, LGBT discrimination, racial discrimination, and more. Our experienced team is committed to providing personalized solutions tailored to your unique situation. Choose us for compassionate and effective legal representation.

Call our team at (713) 352-3433 or fill out our online form to schedule a consultation.

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