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Not Funny: Joke Leads to Termination, Which Leads to Lawsuit

Jokes about color are no laughing matter in the workplace. Yet an employee at Suddenlink Communications seems to have learned this the hard way. John Billy Dever Jr. was fired from his position at Suddenlink Communications after he allegedly made an "off-color" joke to a group of men who he believed shared his same sense of humor, according to The Southeast Texas Record. But after a co-worker allegedly complained about the joke, he was terminated.

Mr. Dever is hoping to get back at the company with a lawsuit. Mr. Dever and his Texas employment lawyer, Dan Chern, filed a lawsuit against Suddenlink Communications on March 10 in the Sherman division of the Eastern District of Texas, alleging age discrimination. Mr. Dever, who is over the age of 40, claims that he was not the only one to make off-color jokes and that the jokes were made after work and out of the office.

Mr. Dever claims that he man who complained about the joke is under the age of 40, and also made a similar joke but did not suffer any adverse employment action. The plaintiff believes that his age was the real reason for his termination, which violates a person's civil rights. He is seeking back pay and benefits, future pay and benefits, compensatory and punitive damages, attorney's fees and costs of the lawsuit.

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) in particular prohibits employers from discriminating against employers and applicants who are 40 years of age and older based on their age. Whether it comes to hiring, firing, promotion, training, or benefits in the workplace, employees over the age of 40 have the right to be free from age discrimination.

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