A California-based moving company that prides itself on its young employees is being sued by the federal government for age discrimination.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission sued Meathead Movers for violating the age discrimination law by not hiring enough older workers. The Wall Street Journal reported.
Since its launch in 1997, the Fresno-based company’s mission has been to recruit student-athletes. Her social media posts show her young, muscular employees lifting weights and lifting boxes.
The employees, called “Meatheads,” face each other annually in the Meathead Olympics, racing to collect boxes and jump over them.
During moves, workers are told to run from the moving truck to the house when they are empty-handed, according to the magazine.
The company states on its website that “its core principle is to support athletes striving to achieve the career path of their dreams and that will never change.”
Meathead Movers executives deny that they discriminate against older workers, claiming that the job is simply too much effort for those who are not at their best.
“We are 100 percent open to hiring anyone of any age if they can do the job,” company owner Aaron Stead told the newspaper. “People love working at Meathead, or they get put off by how hard the work is. You have to move furniture and run to get more.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, chaired by Charlotte Burroughs, alleges that Meathead Movers’ marketing and recruiting practices discourage older workers from applying, the Wall Street Journal reported. The agency claims that current employees are required to look for potential new employees at local gyms and colleges.
The agency told the outlet that discouragement bias can be present in job postings, marketing materials and intrusive questions related to job applications, such as asking about a student’s class schedule.
The EEOC has been looking into the company’s affairs since 2017 on its own and did not result from a complaint, as is the case with most of its investigations. Last year, it received more than 70,000 complaints and filed 91 employment discrimination lawsuits, according to the newspaper.
The two sides tried to negotiate a settlement, with the agency demanding $15 million before reducing that amount to about $5 million, according to internal emails reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.
Meathead responded with a $750,000 settlement offer. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed the lawsuit in September.
“We had no idea we were doing anything wrong by being a transportation company that employs so many student-athletes,” Stead told the Wall Street Journal.
“We want to change and evolve, but we cannot agree to stop working to do so.”
Burroughs was appointed Chairman of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission by President Biden. Since Democrats took control of the agency in August, commissioners have since voted seven times on age discrimination matters. They had voted on age issues only three times this year before that.
It pledged to enforce age discrimination laws regarding age bias, as nearly a quarter of the country’s workforce is 55 or older, and the agency appears to be aggressively pursuing age discrimination cases.
According to the Department of Labor, the number of seniors over the age of 65 in the labor force will grow by a third over the next ten years.
The Post has reached out to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission for comment on the lawsuit.
Advocates for older Americans praised the agency, which addresses ageism.
“Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson is over 50 years old,” Bill Alvarado Rivera, senior vice president for litigation at AARP, an elder rights association, told the newspaper. “I’m pretty sure he would be good at moving boxes.”
“These kind of stereotypes about who can be a good mover have no place in an economy that values individuals.”
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