Can anything be done if a 60 was terminated shortly before they were vested with their company?

My husband is 60 and was in the end of his 9th year when his company was bought out. About 30 employees were let go, some under contract, some not. My husband’s contract was terminated and he lost a year from being vested in the company. What can we do to get his year back or is that just water under the bridge?

Asked on May 11, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, Georgia

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

A 60-year-old can't be fired *because* he is 60, but he may be laid off, terminated, or fired for other good, non-age-related reason, even if he was about to vest. If the company was purchased and a number of employees of all different ages were let go, that is most likely legal: a company being purchased and/or restructured is a valid reason to let employees go. In that case, your husband would have no recourse.
However, if a disproportionate number or percentage of the employees who were let go are over 40 (that is the critical age in the law), so that the employer seems to have used this as an opportunity or excuse to eliminate older employees, that may be illegal age-based discrimination. Employers may not specifically target older employees. So if a higher percentage of those let go are over 40 than over-40s make up of the company, so that a disproporationate share of those terminated are older, your husband may have a discrimination claim. If he thinks this may be the case, he should contact the federa EEOC or your state's civil/equal rights agency to file a complaint.


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