Advance Components, a Texas-based distributor of specialty fasteners, agreed in May to pay $200,000 to settle an EEOC age discrimination lawsuit.
The EEOC claims that Advance Components’ executive vice president and general manager, Gary Craven, made ageist comments to Dan Miller, a 64-year-old national sales manager, and ultimately fired him because of his age. Miller had almost 20 years experience selling the company’s products and had been hired by Advance Components’ founder.
Miller alleges that Craven called him “old-fashioned” and repeatedly expressed his preference to hire younger salesmen with his motto: “30-30-30. Hire a 30-year-old with an IQ of 30 and pay him $30,000.” Craven also allegedly made comments about outside sales being a young man’s game because they were more “driven” and that he wanted to “put young guys on the street.”
Miller was fired on Oct. 6, 2009, and his position was filled the following day by a man in his 30s.
EEOC Regional Attorney Robert Canino said, “Success in sales is not something we would expect to be adversely affected by a greater degree of experience. Broad-brush assumptions that a 30-something is going to be more effective with marketing skills than a 60-something are arbitrary and misplaced suppositions that can lead to a violation of the law. If this ’30-30-30′ theory was at play in the decision to discharge Mr. Miller, we hope the message here is that a rule of thumb like that just doesn’t add up to a good business practice.”