An Ohio Court rejected an employee’s age discrimination claim based on a University policy rejecting the rehire of former retired employees. Dunaway v. University of Cincinnati, Court of Claims No. 2010-11137 (Jan. 20, 2012): Dunaway applied for employment as an Air Quality Technician with the University of Cincinnati’s Administration and Finance Department. At the time of his application, Dunaway was 58 years old and had retired from the University in a different position. The department had a written policy that discouraged the rehire of former retired employees unless approved by its vice president under certain listed criteria. Dunaway was not interviewed for the position and was rejected for rehire. Dunaway then filed suit in the Ohio Court of Claims and alleged that the University’s rejection of his application was discriminatory based on his age because of the University’s no re-hire policy of former retired employees.
The trial court granted the University’s motion for summary judgment on the basis that Dunaway failed to establish that the University’s application of its no-rehire policy was a pretext for age discrimination. The court found that the hiring manager followed the policy by notifying the department’s vice president when he observed that Dunaway did not satisfy any of the listed exceptions to the University’s exclusion of former retired employees. The vice president also testified that although Dunaway met the minimum qualifications, he was not the best match for the position, and did not satisfy any of the listed exceptions to the University’s policy. She also testified that the University created the no re-hire policy because of the negative staff morale that existed when a supervisor retired and was subsequently rehired and was paid a pension and a paycheck. Finally, the vice president testified that the policy assured better succession planning of employee development if an employee’s retirement was treated as a permanent separation from employment. The court concluded that Dunaway provided no evidence that the University’s reasons were a pretext of Age Discrimination.
By: Merl H. Wayman