Tooth Ache: Dentist’s Office Fired Long-Time Worker Because She Turned 65, EEOC Alleges

Karen Ruerat gave over three decades of her working life to a Michigan dental surgery practice, and what did she get for her troubles?

A pink slip just days after she turned 65, says the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Professional Endodontics, P.C., a dental surgery practice based in Southfield, Mich., with three locations, violated federal law by firing an employee because of her age, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed today.

According to the EEOC lawsuit, Karen Ruerat had been employed as a receptionist for Professional Endodontics for over 37 years when she was fired four days after her 65th birthday due to a company policy that mandated retirement at age 65.

Such alleged conduct violates the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), which protects individuals who are 40 years of age or older from employment discrimination based on age. The EEOC filed suit (Case No. 2:17-cv-13466 in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The EEOC is seeking injunctive relief prohibiting Professional Endodontics from discriminating against other employees based on age, monetary relief including back pay and liquidated damages, and other affirmative relief for Ruerat.

“Terminating an employee because he or she turns 65 is illegal,” said Miles Uhlar, trial attorney for the EEOC’s Detroit Field Office. “The EEOC is pursuing this matter because federal law provides specific protection to members of our workforce, like Ms. Ruerat, who are age 40 or above.”

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