Suit: Electrician fired, re-hired and fired again due to age discrimination

By Jim Boyle | Jul 14, 2014

A Northampton County man says his age played a major factor in his shaky employment with a Lehigh County-based contractor, according to a suit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

Kenneth Strohl, of Bath, Pa., seeks damages under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act and its anti-retaliation provision, saying his second firing was revenge for filing a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

Strohl states he began working for R.J. Skelding in 1995 as an electrician. In April 2012, he was fired based on a letter from the managing contractor on his last job, Allied Construction. The letter said that Strohl did unsatisfactory work, but the plaintiff says that personal communication with the job supervisor showed that he was happy with Strohl's work.

According to the complaint, after filing a complaint of discrimination with the EEOC which contended that the letter was fraudulent and pretext for terminating Strohl based on his age, 43, Robert Skelding, the owner of R.J. Skelding, verified that Strohl's suspicions were correct and re-hired him. One of the conditions of the re-hiring was for Strohl to drop the EEOC complaint, which he did.

A few months later, Strohl was laid off again in December 2012. This time, the plaintiff thought the dismissal was legitimate because electrical work is slow in the winter months, the claim says. However, the plaintiff learned in January that other, younger workers were being brought back in for work. When he called Skelding for an explanation, the suit says the owner told Strohl that he would never work for him again because the plaintiff had spent time in jail.

The complaint says that Strohl had been arrested and convicted on a misdemeanor charge in 2000, which was the last time he had been involved with the criminal justice system. Skelding allegedly employs a younger worker who also has a checkered history with the law, including previous arrests for robbery. Strohl says the real reason Skelding terminated him a second time was his anger at the plaintiff for filing a complaint with the EEOC.

Strohl seeks monetary judgment, plus coverage of court costs, and reinstatement to his former position or a comparable position.

The plaintiff is represented by Allentown, Pa., attorney Richard Orloski.

The federal case ID number is 5:14-cv-04212-LS.

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