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Judge Finds No Age Discrimination in Gray Hair Lawsuit

Sandra Rawline accused her former employer of six years, Capital Title, of firing her from her position as branch manager because of her shoulder length gray hair, according to the Houston Chronicle. She claimed that her refusal to dye her hair was the main reason she was fired.

Capital Title denied the claims, and has actually filed a defamation suit against Rawline for the media coverage she brought to the company, according to the Chronicle. The judge agreed with the company, dismissing Rawline's suit and letting the defamation suit go forward.

This raises the issue of what Rawline would have had to prove to succeed in an age discrimination suit.

First, a few more facts of the suit. It was revealed that Rawline had gray hair throughout her six-year tenure at Capital Title, and it was discovered that she was replaced by a woman who was 10 years older than her, according to the Chronicle. These facts would make it pretty difficult to succeed in this type of case.

Age discrimination is forbidden by the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA). To prove an age discrimination case, an employee must show that intentional action was taken on account of the employee's age. This means that more than just showing that a younger person was hired to replace you. While that is certainly some evidence, it does not alone prove that age was the reason for the firing.

While it is difficult to prove an age discrimination case with direct evidence, Rawline should have checked her facts a little more and understood the reasons for her termination before filing her suit.

The most damaging facts were that she had gray hair throughout her employment, there were multiple client complaints about her, and that she admitted the hair dying issue was her interpretation of what a supervisor meant, according to The Associated Press.

Had Sandra Rawline taken a second look at all the facts, maybe she would not have wasted the effort on pursuing a weak claim and not be under the gun for defamation. Know your rights, but also know as much about the facts as you can before jumping into litigation.

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