A former senior HR director for Honeywell sued the company Friday alleging age discrimination in violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (Baker v. Honeywell International, Inc., No. 1:23-cv-01520 (N.D. Ga. April 7, 2023)).
The plaintiff, who joined Honeywell in July 2020 at the age of 55, claimed he received positive feedback and recognition for his job performance from co-workers, associates and management at the conglomerate.
In December 2020, the employee changed supervisors, reporting to a VP of HR. The plaintiff alleged that his new supervisor canceled a series of one-on-one meetings before informing him that his performance was substandard.
The plaintiff said he requested a performance improvement plan from his manager, but the supervisor refused to do so and asked him to help train a younger replacement. Honeywell terminated the plaintiff in March 2021.
Aside from the cancellation of meetings, the plaintiff — who claimed to be the oldest employee on Honeywell’s HR team — alleged he was treated differently than younger employees. He claimed his supervisor would frequently meet with other team members but would refuse to meet with him, despite a company policy requiring all managers to meet with direct reports at least once per week.
Prior to his termination, the plaintiff also alleged that a low performance rating given to him by the supervisor resulted in him losing out on a $26,000 performance bonus. His suit asked Honeywell to pay for damages including lost benefits, front pay, litigation costs and other relief.
Honeywell did not immediately respond to an HR Dive request for comment.
Prevailing on age discrimination claims historically has been difficult for employees, in part because ageism is widespread and even tolerated in workplaces, the AARP said in a 2020 report. A 2021 survey of global hiring managers found that workers ages 45 and above tended to be viewed as weaker job candidates than younger workers.
Older workers may face even more employment obstacles due to the COVID-19 pandemic. A 2020 working paper published by Tulane University researchers found the COVID-induced economic recession disproportionately affected workers ages 65 and older compared to previous recessions.
U.S. regulators continue to pursue age discrimination cases, however. In February, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission agreed to a $460,000 settlement with manufacturer Fischer Connectors over claims the company fired an HR director and replaced her with two younger workers when she questioned plans to replace older workers at the organization.