Man awarded more than $134K in lost wages in age discrimination lawsuit against Market Basket

MANCHESTER, N.H. — A man has been awarded more than $134,000 in lost wages and damages after a jury ruled in his favor in a federal case that alleged Market Basket discriminated against him because of his age.

Rodney Martinez had filed suit against DeMoulas Super Markets, Inc., the owners of the Tewksbury-based Market Basket chain, claiming that he was discriminated against under both the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act and the New Hampshire Law Against Discrimination, according to court documents filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Hampshire.

Following a trial, the jury returned a verdict in favor of Martinez on both claims and awarded him back pay in the amount of $54,749 and compensatory damages for $20,251. According to a recent ruling, Judge Andrea Johnstone also awarded Martinez $54,749 in liquidated damages and an additional $5,000 in enhanced compensatory damages.

The lawsuit alleged that Market Basket promoted younger employees instead of Martinez, a part-time employee of more than seven years who was in his 50s at the time and often worked full-time hours as a produce associate at a store in Manchester.

During his time with the company, Martinez was a “hard-working” employee who never called out and only missed one day of work, according to court documents. Those documents claimed that Market Basket repeatedly chose not to promote him, frequently scheduling him more than 45 hours a week without providing him full-time benefits like a pay raise, paid vacation and sick leave, profit sharing, and dental insurance.

“After more than seven years of working as a part-time employee for the defendant, [Martinez] was passed over for a promotion to become a full-time employee for a younger and less qualified employee,” the lawsuit stated. “Simply put, Martinez was discriminated against because of his age.”

Court documents indicated that despite Martinez expressing interest in taking on a full-time role, Market Basket promoted a 27-year-old over him in May 2019 and then a 22-year-old instead of him in December of that year when the 27-year-old was fired. Martinez was 59 years of age at the time.

“Martinez was always interested in promotion to a full-time position and at all times since his employment it was his goal to be promoted to a full-time position and then continue to progress at Market Basket,” the lawsuit stated.

It was further alleged that Martinez’s manager asked him in a discussion about promotion if he would be willing to step down once he “gets too old” and that there was a “push to hire young people to promote to managers.”

In response to the lawsuit, DeMoulas Super Markets said Martinez’s conversation with his manager never happened and that he never expressed an interest in working full-time.

Read the lawsuit in its entirety below:

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