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Rutgers denies it dismissed long-term workers due to age

NEWARK, N.J., Dec. 7 (UPI) -- A spokesman for New Jersey's largest public college, Rutgers University, said an age discrimination lawsuit filed against it has no merit.

Four long-term Rutgers employees -- one the head of the highly ranked career-services program at the school -- contend the university president's current chief of staff, Gregory Jackson, pushed them out due to their age.

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Dorothy Kerr, 60, who had worked for more than 40 years at the college, said Jackson frequently asked them when they planned to retire, the New York Times reported Saturday.

Three of the four employees were given exemplary work reviews through 2011. Then, in 2012, with Jackson in charge of their annual reviews, the administrators suddenly were written up as failing to perform their jobs in every category, the Times said.

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In 2009, the head of the career services program Richard White, 63, was reviewed as running his program "at the highest possible level." In 2012, however, he was removed from his job and given another assignment.

He contends he was humiliated, but willing to do the new job. And then he was fired.

The Equal Opportunity Commission said 22,857 age-discrimination cases were filed in the United States in 2012, up from 16,548 in 2006.

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The laws vary among states. In many states, age discrimination has to be proved as the motivation behind a dismissal. In other states, including New Jersey, plaintiffs only have to prove age discrimination was a factor in a dismissal.

John Bennett, a lawyer representing Rutgers, said he would not comment on the case due to a court order barring the release of personnel documents, the Times said.

A university spokesman, Peter McDonough Jr., said the college would "vigorously defend our practices" in court.

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