The age discrimination case on his behalf brought by Bunshoft rests in part on "stray remarks" allegedly made by Reid's younger co-workers and superiors, who called him, according to the complaint, "an old fuddy-duddy," "and old man," "slow," and "sluggish." His ideas were dismissed for being "too old to matter." Google says age had nothing to do with Reid's dismissal. The case is now wending its way through a trial court in San Jose.
Bunshoft, referring to the Texas Roadhouse suit, says, "If your policy is to hire only people under 40 for the front of the house, that's against the law. Period. If you're qualified to do the work, you should have a serious shot at it, regardless of age."
He says some jobs, obviously, are age-related. "You can't get hired as a right tackle for the Jets and be 55. You can't be a child actor at 73. But there's nothing age-related about being a receptionist or a maitre d' in a restaurant."
Though federal law sets 40 as the age below which a person cannot sue age discrimination, Savits says some states, including New Jersey, have age discrimination laws not pegged to a specific age: In one famous Jersey case, a plaintiff charged that his employer had fired him for being too young (25).
Not 40 or 25 or any age should be the limit, says Savits. "The number should not be relevant. The law doesn't say you cannot be discriminated against if you you're old. It says you can't be discriminated against on the basis of age."