Age Discrimination in Walpin-Gate; Inspector General's Lawsuit Hints at Explosive Charge

Article excerpt


The Obama administration will have a hard time defending its actions against a suit by fired AmeriCorps Inspector General Gerald Walpin.

In our June 24 editorial headlined Lieberman overlooks Walpingate, we suggested that the White House verged on improper age discrimination by claiming the 77-year-old Mr. Walpin was 'disoriented' and 'confused' at a May 20 meeting. In a footnote to a lawsuit Mr. Walpin filed on Friday demanding his job back, Mr. Walpin's lawyers have written that the [White House] conduct at issue raises serious questions of age discrimination, retaliation against whistleblowers and defamation.

The suit itself does not (yet) claim age discrimination - but the threat of a future such claim, which is inherent in the footnote, is justified based on the circumstances.

The Web site of the nonprofit organization Workplace Fairness, which specializes in providing information about employment discrimination, provides this as one of six examples of potentially unlawful age discrimination : Before you were fired, your supervisor made age-related remarks about you, such as that you were 'over-the-hill,' or 'ancient.'"

For instance, just last August a federal district court in Illinois ruled in McDonald v. Best Buy that an employer's repeated use of the word Grandma with reference to an employee he was trying to force out was evidence of an age-discriminatory motive. …