“On the Edge of Age Discrimination”

ageboom3The New York Times Magazine, March 9, 1997

(Part of a special issue: The Age Boom)

Larue Simpson made $196,000 a year, played golf and owned thoroughbred racehorses before his life derailed, he contends, on the prejudice that does not discriminate by race, sex or class. A jury agreed that Simpson lost his job as a partner in the Cincinnati office of the accounting giant Ernst & Young because, at the age of 47, he was deemed too old by his firm.

With Ernst & Young prepared to ask the United States Supreme Court to overturn the $3.7 million verdict the accountant won in 1994, Simpson’s age-discrimination case may prove to be a watershed for baby-boom professionals. Ernst & Young is fighting for the right of big law, accounting and consulting firms to decide whom they hire and fire as they always have — in the decorum of partnership agreements and without resort to unseemly (and unpredictable) lawsuits. But for Simpson and all who came of age at the birth of the civil rights movement, no course of action could be more proper than to imbue one’s personal struggle with universal significance by taking it to court. His suit and others like it signal that, with all the vigor they once summoned to fight the Vietnam War, environmental pollution and repression of any kind, baby boomers are poised to attack an issue that is new only to them: how employers treat workers with long careers. Read more.

(Note: The New York Times removed much of the punctuation, especially quotation marks, when it archived this story on its web site! Contact me if you want a clean “hard” copy for educational or noncommercial purposes.-Marianne)