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He had a heart attack at work, then the New York security firm fired him, feds say

Charlotte Observer - 9/23/2022

After suffering a heart attack at work, a 57-year-old employee at a security company in New York says he was discriminated against, and now the federal government is suing his employer for disability and age discrimination.

The lawsuit, filed on Thursday, Sept. 22, alleges an employee at Maximum Security NYC, a company based in Queens, New York, was “subjected to discriminatory comments” and actions following a heart attack at work in 2019, according to a news release.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), a federal agency, filed the suit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York citing a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Age Discrimination in Employment Act, which protect employees from discrimination in the workplace based on disability and age.

A representative for Maximum Security Inc. declined to comment when reached by McClatchy News.

The man, who was employed as a fire life safety director, was allegedly told by his supervisor that, on account of his age and condition, he should retire, according to the release.

He was instructed to stop reporting to work in March 2020, “purportedly due to lack of work during the emerging COVID-19 pandemic,” the release said. However, five months later, the firm asked the man to resign, referencing his age and the desire to avoid another heart attack in the workplace. The man refused to quit and was subsequently fired, according to the release.

“The COVID-19 pandemic made employees with disabilities and older employees particularly vulnerable to discrimination based on stereotypes about their ability to work,” Jeffrey Burstein, regional attorney for the EEOC’s New York District Office, said in the release. “Those stereotypes are not a lawful basis for employment decisions.”

The amount of age-related discrimination charges filed by workers over age 65 with the EEOC and employers doubled from 1990 to 2017, according to a 2019 study. Between 2010 and 2018, U.S. employers paid $810 million to settle age discrimination suits filed with the EEOC.

In the lawsuit against Maximum Security, the EEOC is seeking relief with the purpose of remedying and preventing disability and age discrimination, according to the release.

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