The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed this week that the City of Palestine violated federal law by subjecting a police officer to age discrimination .

The EEOC charged in its suit (Case No. 6:06CV141, filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, Tyler Division) that the city failed to consider a qualified police officer who was over 40 years of age for assignment to an anti-drug task force because of his age.

Such conduct violates the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), which protects workers age 40 and older from discrimination based on age. The EEOC filed suit after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement. The suit seeks back pay and liquidated damages, management training on age discrimination laws, posting of notices at the work site, and other injunctive relief.

“Age discrimination is simply illegal,” said EEOC trial attorney David Rivela in a prepared statement. “The City of Palestine Police Department ignored the officer’s superior qualifications and rejected him for selection based on his age.

“When a police department, which is responsible for upholding the law, ignores its legal responsibilities and openly discriminates against its employees, the EEOC has no choice but to challenge such conduct in court.”

Palestine city attorney Ron Stutes of Tyler, who was contacted Thursday about the pending lawsuit, stated he had no knowledge of the suit being filed, and could not make a statement.

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