News

$140,000 Age Discrimination and Retaliation Settlement for Fryberger Clients

Two Fryberger clients, Karen Kolodzeske and Randy Virta, have received a cash settlement, in the total amount of $140,000, from their former employer, Stack Bros. Mechanical Contractors, Inc. for age discrimination when they were terminated upon reaching the age of 62, and for retaliation against Ms. Kolodzeske when she resisted the plans to terminate her.

Donald C. Erickson, Senior Counsel at Fryberger and a Labor and Employment Law Specialist Certified by the Minnesota State Bar Association, represented both Virta and Kolodzeske as private counsel.  Mr. Erickson brought before the U. S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) the initial charges of discrimination and retaliation against Stack Brothers.  Mr. Erickson represented both through the investigation by the EEOC, which resulted in a finding of probable cause that Stack Brothers had discriminated and retaliated as charged.

When the case could not be settled through conciliation, due to the serious and egregious nature of the claims, the EEOC requested to have its civil trial attorneys represent Virta and Kolodzeske to prosecute the case in U. S. District Court in the Western District of Wisconsin.  It is very rare for the EEOC to take over a case.  Mr. Erickson agreed as it was in the client’s interests to have the power of the federal government in support of their claims.  In addition, there would be no additional attorneys’ fees incurred by Virta or Kolodzeske for the EEOC’s representation.

Prior to settlement of the case, EEOC trial counsel advised Mr. Erickson that the EEOC did not negotiate private counsel’s fees; however, agreed to submit a statement of fees.  The settlement resulted in a separate payment of $10,000 in fees, plus $95,000 to Virta and $35,000 to Kolodzeske.  In addition, Stack Brothers was required, among other things, by the consent decree to revise its policies on age discrimination and provide training to its supervisors.

The EEOC Press Release regarding the settlement can be viewed at http://www.eeoc.gov//eeoc/newsroom/release/9-18-15.cfm