By Kyle Emshwiller
The case. In 2009, the then 71-year-old lifeguard—who had 50 years of experience under his belt—was suspended without pay after failing a swim test. The man later passed the first segment of his retest but was injured and given 1 week to complete the second segment of the retest, according to the lawsuit.
Nassau County, however, fired him 2 days later and before he completed the retest.
According to the EEOC lawsuit, younger lifeguards who failed the same swim test were not suspended, and some were permitted to continue working pending successful completion of the retest. No younger lifeguards were discharged for failing to pass the swim test.
The EEOC filed suit after first attempting to reach a prelitigation settlement through its conciliation process.
Earlier this month, the agency announced that Nassau County will pay $65,000 in back pay to settle the age discrimination lawsuit.
This isn’t the first age discrimination lawsuit involving a lifeguard. Last year, we reported on a Long Island lifeguard a decade younger but just as determined to keep his job at the beach.
In that case, the issue wasn’t over passing a swimming test. The then 61-year-old lifeguard was fired for refusing to wear a Speedo. In a comment to the press, he explained his position: “I wore a Speedo when I was in my 20s … [b]ut come on. There should be a law prohibiting anyone over the age of 50 from wearing a Speedo.”
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