Settlement reached after employer fired employee due to her age
The Minnesota Department of Human Rights (MDHR) announced a settlement agreement with Natural Dental, a dental practice located in St. Paul, after the employer violated the state’s Human Rights Act by discriminating against Kathleen Dahlstrom because of her age.
According to the case, in June 2018, Dahlstrom was unlawfully terminated from her position as the business manager at Natural Dental because of age discrimination.
MDHR found the owner of the business made "demeaning age-related" comments about Dahlstrom. The owner said he "couldn’t work with Kathleen — she’s too old" and that she was "too old to learn new things."
The owner, who purchased the dental practice in May 2018, claimed he fired Dahlstrom because of performance shortcomings, according to a release, even though he gave Dahlstrom a favorable performance evaluation just days before firing her. She’d been at her job since 1999.
Less than a week after the owner fired Dahlstrom, he hired a new business manager who was more than 30 years younger.
In November 2020, MDHR found probable cause that Natural Dental violated the Human Rights Act. Under the state’s civil rights law, employers cannot discriminate against an employee because of their age.
Terms of the settlement require Natural Dental to:
- Create and implement anti-discrimination policies.
- Require all employees to read and sign an acknowledgment of the new policies.
- Require its owner to attend anti-discrimination and bias training.
- Provide all employees with anti-discrimination and bias training.
In addition, Natural Dental must pay Dahlstrom $54,000 for lost wages and damages.