Former ODNR Contractor Awarded $500K For Age Discrimination

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Previously finding that the Ohio Department of Natural Resources discriminated against a former employee because of his age, the Court of Claims of Ohio on January 15 awarded Richard W. Warden more than $500,000 in damages.

Warden worked as a professional engineer for ODNR for nearly 30 years and retired in 2006, according to the court’s decision.

He was hired back on a contract basis to develop a program to estimate the costs of reclaiming forfeited coal mining sites.

As Warden continued his contract work, ODNR created a full-time position in 2010 to handle the duties.

Warden applied for the position, but ODNR hired someone 15 years younger despite ODNR asking if Warden would be interested in the position and despite Warden scoring the highest out of all the interviewees.

Because of the discrimination, the court noted that the person’s reinstatement to the position is the “preferred remedy” but that it was “inappropriate under the circumstances” given the person hired in the position is now in his third year of employment and Warden only intended to work five more years.

“Accordingly, the court finds that plaintiff is entitled to an award of back pay and front pay equivalent to the amount he would have earned had he held the job for five years.”

The court awarded Warden a total of $507,656.75, which included $157,411 in back pay.

He also received costs and attorney’s fees as part of the total award.

The Court of Claims is given original jurisdiction to hear and determine all civil actions filed against the State of Ohio and its agencies.