So, I know there are a lot of jokes about retired folks becoming a Wal-Mart greeter, even though I’m sure Wal-Mart would say that their greeters can be any age. But this joke has actually taken on legal significance – the term, “Wal-Mart door greeter” now apparently equates with calling someone “old.” At least it did in the case of Davis v. Progressive Waste Solutions of Louisiana, Inc.
In this case, a truck driver was terminated, ostensibly for missing five days of work. The driver sued his employer, claiming that the termination was based on his age, 59 years old, in addition to some other claims. The employers asked the court for summary judgment, arguing that the driver’s claims had no merit as a matter of law and should be dismissed. The court, however, disagreed, finding that the driver had offered direct evidence of age discrimination – two comments by the Site Supervisor:
- Either during or immediately after the termination, the Site Supervisor told the driver, “[G]o get a job as a Wal-Mart door greeter.”
- Another employee reported that the Site Supervisor said the following day, “I’m the one that got rid of the old bastard.”
Well, that second comment is clearly ageist – there’s no question about it when you use the word “old.” But “Wal-Mart door greeter”? Huh. Well, I guess that now one of my crazy teenagers is in college, I feel like a Wal-Mart greeter.(!!!)