EEOC and ASG agree to continue trial for alleged age discrimination

The federal court in Honolulu has granted a joint motion by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the American Samoa Government to continue the federal trial in an age discrimination case to May of next year.

EEOC sued ASG and its Department of Human Resources last August, alleging age discrimination, a violation of the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA). Last December, ASG’s attorney in Honolulu asked the court to dismiss the suit and for ASG to be awarded legal costs and other appropriate remedies.

No specific monetary damages were sought in the EEOC lawsuit, which was set for trial on Feb.12 next year; however, new court filings show that the jury trial has since been continued to May 14, 2013 following a joint motion by both sides.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Richard L. Puglisi, in an Apr. 30 court order, says that ASG contends that the permissible scope of claimants in this lawsuit is limited to two individuals within ASG’s Human Resources Department.

However, EEOC contends that the permissible scope of claimants in this lawsuit extends to the entire ASG; and parties have agreed to resolve the threshold issue regarding the permissible scope of this lawsuit through motions practice, according to the order.

The parties also agree that it will be most efficient to resolve the threshold issue regarding the permissible scope of this lawsuit prior to engaging in further discovery, as the resolution of such issue will affect the scope of discovery.

A footnote in the order states that EEOC will amend the complaint to reflect that ASG is the only defendant because DHR is part of ASG. (When the suit was filed, the defendants were ASG and DHR).

“In order to provide sufficient time for the court to resolve the dispute over the scope of this lawsuit, and to permit sufficient time thereafter for discovery, dispositive motions, and/or other pre-trial activities, the parties agreed to continue trial to May 14, 2013,” said the magistrate judge.

This lawsuit centers on an age discrimination claim by DHR employee Eseneiaso J. Liu, who was transferred from her previous post as Chief of Personnel to Chief of Human Capital and Strategic Planning Division. However, EEOC has also identified at least three other employees (with no names mentioned in the suit), who are alleged to be discriminated against by ASG due to their age, in the lawsuit.

In a separate order, also issued on Monday, Puglisi outlined specific dates on when parties are to file motions, counter motions, proposed jury instructions, exhibits and witness lists.

In his third court order on Monday, Puglisi set February 2013 as the settlement conference hearing and the judge ordered that, prior to the hearing, that the parties are to negotiate and make a good faith effort to settle the case without the involvement of the court.

Outcome of such negotiations should be presented to the court during the settlement conference hearing.


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