Former MoDOT employee alleges age discrimination

ST. JOSEPH, Mo. (AP) — A former employee of the Missouri Department of Transportation has filed an age discrimination lawsuit accusing the department of developing a so-called “Buzzard List” that included employees’ ages and was used as a tool in staff reductions.

Elaine Justus says in her lawsuit that she worked for the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission’s northwest district from 1997 until early 2013, largely in community relations.

The lawsuit filed in April in Buchanan County alleges that in 2011, when Justus was 62, a manager asked her age and she was told a month later she wouldn’t be reappointed. She was later demoted and then terminated in January 2013, The St. Joseph News-Press reported (http://bit.ly/14l7hdS ).

The complaint said that in March 2010 the transportation department developed a plan for spending reductions that included lists identifying employees by age and tenure with the department. A manager in the northwest district, where Justus worked, then created a list of employees there that was sorted in order of retirement eligibility, with employees closest to retirement at the top of the list, the complaint said.

The manager “referred to the list of Northwest District employees as the ‘Buzzard List,’ reflecting Defendant’s bias against employees high on the list because of age and seniority,” the complaint said. The department “used the ‘Buzzard List’ to target Defendant’s employees to coerce early retirement and/or to discharge employees with higher placement on the ‘Buzzard List,”’ according to the complaint.

MoDOT spokesman Bob Brendel said the department doesn’t comment on pending litigation or personnel matters.

A hearing in the case is scheduled for July 9.

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Information from: St. Joseph (Mo.) News-Press, http://www.stjoenews-press.com

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