Key Harrington Barnes, PC

Life Alert sued for employment discrimination

Texas residents who are familiar with Life Alert products that are marketed to elderly consumers may be surprised to learn that the company is being sued for age discrimination and sexual harassment. On May 6, a former employee of Life Alert Emergency Response Inc filed a $7 million lawsuit after he claims he was fired for his age, cancer diagnosis and objections to sexual harassment.

Life Alert is best known for its television ads that feature the slogan 'Help, I've fallen and I can't get up." The company sells wearable devices that can be used by elderly and disabled people to call for assistance when they experience an emergency. The plaintiff in the lawsuit, who is now 71 years old, worked as a Life Alert sales manager and was employed by the company for 12 years.

According to the plaintiff's discrimination claims, he was fired without warning on Nov. 10. The former Life Alert employee says that the firing came shortly after he had started radiation therapy for prostate cancer. He also says that he believes he was fired in retaliation for complaints he had made about employee misclassification and sexual harassment of female employees at the company. The company's chief executive reportedly responded to the man's complaints about sexual harassment by saying that nobody was forcing the women to stay.

A business owner may be able to avoid employment lawsuits like this by developing policies to address discrimination and harassment before it becomes an issue. Legal counsel can assist a business owner in the creation of policies dealing with issues like sexual harassment and that provide a mechanism for investigating and handling employee complaints.

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