Los Angeles age discrimination jury awards landmark US$28m damages

LOS ANGELES (AFP) - A 58-year-old woman was awarded damages of US$28 million (S$38 million) on Tuesday (June 26) in an age discrimination payout her lawyer said may be the largest of its kind in Los Angeles legal history.

Codie Rael said she was forced to quit after enduring a barrage of abuse from her superiors at Sybron Dental Specialties and KaVo Kerr Group, both owned by Washington-based medical tech company Danaher.

Los Angeles Superior Court ordered the companies to pay her US$16 million and US$12 million respectively in punitive damages, on top of a US$3 million compensation award she won last week in the same case.

"I never expected this," a jubilant Rael said outside the courtroom as she fought back tears.

Rael's lawyer, Carney Shegerian, represented a client awarded US$26.1 million against office supplies chain Staples in 2014, in a wrongful termination and age discrimination case.

The attorney said the total awarded to Rael may now be the largest of its type in the history of the Los Angeles County jurisdiction.

Rael worked as a materials buyer and planner for Sybron and KaVo Kerr in locations across southern California but was forced out in October 2014.

She said she was subjected to such comments as "you are outdated," "we need younger workers here" and "dumb female," often from her supervisor and his boss.

Rael quit because of the stress of her job and was replaced by a man in his 20s, according to her court papers.

The jury accepted Rael's claim that she had also been the victim of age harassment, wrongful termination and retaliation, finding that her employers acted with malice, oppression or fraud.