ASG denies claim of age discrimination in DHR lawsuit


The American Samoa Government has denied discriminating against older workers, as alleged by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which has maintained its allegations and asked the federal court in Honolulu to set a trial date for this case, the first of its type made against ASG.

The EEOC's suit was filed Aug.30 alleging employment discrimination action under the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), and is being brought against ASG and its Department of Human Resources, whose Chief of Personnel Eseneiaso J. Liu was transfered to the position of Chief of Human Capital and Strategic Planning Division, which prompted the lawsuit.

"Liu did not lose any pay or benefits in the transfer, and was not otherwise adversely affected as a result of the transfer," said ASG in its Dec.8 "scheduling conference statement" filed with the federal court in Honolulu where the case is to be heard.

ASG also states that it "denies" the EEOC's claim of age discrimination under the ADEA federal law. The territorial government is represented by Honolulu attorney Darin R. Leong.

However, EEOC in its "scheduling conference statement" filed Dec.7 says the plaintiff "maintains that defendants engaged in unlawful employment practices on the basis of age by subjecting Eseneiaso Liu and a class of other similarly situated individuals to unfavorable working conditions by pursuing policies and practices designed to purge older employees from the work force."

"The EEOC further maintains that these policies and practices included government officials publicly stating that older employees should leave their jobs and should be encouraged to leave their jobs, reassigning older employees to less favorable positions, and other adverse employment actions, on the basis of age, over forty, in violation of the ADEA," the agency alleges.

According to the EEOC, it seeks back wages, liquidated damages, prejudgment interest, and injunctive relief on behalf of Liu and similarly situated individuals, as well as on behalf of the public interest.

EEOC, through its senior trial attorney Carol Igoe, requested presiding judge, U.S. District Court Magistrate Richard L. Puglisi to set a jury trial date on this action and the agency estimates length of trial to be five to ten days. Igoe also points out that the federal court in Honolulu is the proper venue to hear this case.

"The EEOC anticipates filing a Motion of Summary Judgment on defendants' liability," said Igoe and noted that no discovery has been conducted by EEOC and discovery will commence with the parties' exchange of Initial Disclosures.

Additionally, the EEOC anticipates serving written discovery, taking at least three depositions, and pursuing additional discovery, as necessary.

In a report - which is required by federal rules in civil procedures - filed Monday, Igoe revealed that EEOC and Leong met Nov. 21 to discuss various issues in this case.

At the meeting the parties agreed to exchange "initial disclosures" by Jan. 9, 2012, while EEOC contends that discovery will be needed on facts and witnesses supporting and/or regarding:

EEOC's claim that defendants discriminated against Liu and a class of other similarly situated individuals on the basis of age, over forty, in violation of the ADEA;

defendants' affirmative defenses;

defendants' anti-harassment/anti-retaliation policies and training, if any, and implementation of any such policies; and

defendants' liability for back wages, liquidated damages, prejudgment interest, and injunctive relief.

The federal court has set for Dec.15 the scheduling hearing, and federal prosecutors hope the court will, at that time, set trial date.


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