A dental surgery has agreed to pay a former employee $54,000 as part of a settlement after it fired her because of her age.
The Minnesota Department of Human Rights announced it has reached an agreement with Natural Dental, of St. Paul, after it was found to have violated the Minnesota Human Rights Act when it fired Kathleen Dahlstrom.
According to a statement from the department, Dahlstrom was subjected to "demeaning age-related comments" by the owner of the practice, who said he "couldn’t work with Kathleen – she’s too old" and that she was "too old to learn new things."
The owner, who bought the practice in May 2018, had claimed he fired Dahlstrom because of poor performance, but it was found he gave her a favorable performance evaluation just days before firing her.
"Dahlstrom capably performed her job duties since 1999," the Department of Human Rights said. "Less than a week after the owner fired Dahlstrom, he hired a new business manager who was more than 30 years younger."
The department said it found probable cause this past November that Natural Dental had violated the Human Rights Act through age discrimination.
As well as agreeing to pay Dahlstrom $54,000, Natural Dental must also create anti-discrimination policies and provide bias training.
"Ageism has no place in Minnesota’s workplaces," said Minnesota Department of Human Rights Commissioner Rebecca Lucero. "This settlement sends a clear message that age discrimination violates the state’s civil rights law. If we are to build inclusive workplaces, we must be intentional that our biases, actions, and policies and practices do not perpetuate ageism and cause further harm."