Penn State

Was a longtime employee fired as a result of age discrimination? Penn State responds

Penn State students walk by Old Main on the first day of classes on Monday, August 20, 2018.
Penn State students walk by Old Main on the first day of classes on Monday, August 20, 2018. Centre Daily Times, file

Penn State University has denied allegations in a former employee’s age discrimination lawsuit, saying its decision to terminate her was based on legitimate factors other than age.

Carol Walker, 61, was terminated by Penn State in connection with a layoff in June 2016. She worked at the university for 24 years and four months at that point and claimed her retirement benefits, including lifetime health care, would have vested after 25 years of employment.

“The university discriminated against plaintiff by reason of her age and its stated reason for the termination of plaintiff’s employment was pretextual,” the lawsuit said.

In his response, attorney Philip Miles said Penn State offered Walker a severance package and explained her layoff was due to the reorganization and redistribution of operational functions.

Miles also denied that Walker’s retirement plan would have vested once she reached 25 years of employment.

He said full-time employees, after 25 years of employment, and 10 years of continuous participation in a Penn State sponsored health care plan immediately preceding retirement, may continue their coverage at the employee contribution rate.

“Penn State denies any violation of either the PHRA (Pennsylvania Human Relations Act) or the ADEA (Age Discrimination in Employment Act),” Miles said in the lawsuit, which has since been moved to federal court. “The decision to terminate Walker’s employment was based on legitimate, non-discriminatory factors other than age.”

Barbara Anderton speaks about the judgment