(CN) – MCI had the right to fire a 55-year-old worker whose technical skills were no longer up to par, the 7th Circuit ruled. “Choosing to let someone go because they have an obsolete skill set … is completely kosher,” Judge Evans wrote.
Guy Martino worked as a business consultant from 2005 until he was let go in 2006. During that time, nearly 85 percent of his sales came from a large deal with British Petroleum. Though he was credited for the sale, his supervisors said he contributed little to the team, provided inaccurate and incomplete information, and was “frequently inaccessible.”
“But apart from the fact that the BP deal was Martino’s only big success – and he was hardly instrumental to the deal at that – Martino’s skill set was soon to be obsolete,” Judge Evans explained.
After MCI merged with Verizon in 2006, Verizon wanted Martino’s department to provide more complex services, including managing the servers in the company’s data centers.
Martino was let go, along with a handful of younger employees with subpar sales performance.
Martino conceded that the people who actually fired him didn’t discriminate, but said the decision was based on the age bias of his direct supervisor, Bob Gross, who sometimes called him an “oldtimer.” Gross was also the person who hired Martino.
“Martino wasn’t exactly a spring chicken when he started working for MCI. He was 54,” Judge Evans noted.
“Common sense tells us that it’s unlikely for a person to suddenly develop a strong bias against older folks.”
The court said a reasonable jury could find that Martino had been fired for his unremarkable performance and inadequate skills, not age discrimination.