SKO successfully defended a Fortune 500 company that was being sued in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Kentucky by a former employee alleging age discrimination. The former employee claimed that the company violated the Kentucky Civil Rights Act when it selected him, and not a younger co-worker, for layoff during a company-wide reduction in force. The plaintiff sought lost wages of more than $100,000, emotional distress damages of $1,300,000, and an award of attorney’s fees. This case was noteworthy because it included so-called “direct evidence” of age discrimination: an audio recording that plaintiff had secretly made of his conversation with his supervisor, wherein the supervisor could be heard telling the plaintiff that he was being laid off because of his age.
After a four day trial in August 2014, a seven member jury returned a unanimous verdict in favor of the company, finding that the company had not engaged in unlawful discrimination. SKO’s trial team won the case by proving to the jury that the company had a well conceived plan for the reduction in force that was properly implemented, and that the plaintiff’s termination was actually motivated by his job performance, which did not compare favorably with the younger co-worker. The Company also showed that the supervisor’s recorded statements about age were intended to avoid hurting the plaintiff’s feelings by telling him with the true reason for his layoff.