An age discrimination lawsuit against Manheim Township could be headed to trial this fall if pending settlement talks fail.
A settlement conference is scheduled for Aug. 5, according to the court docket. If both sides fail to agree on a settlement, the case could head to trial as soon as October, according to the former employee’s attorney, Bryan Lentz.
The federal lawsuit states former township highway superintendent Guy R. Bunteman was fired nearly three years after a laborer 20 years his junior was hired. Bunteman was 51 years old when the lawsuit was filed last October in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
Bunteman’s lawyers argue his termination violates the Age Discrimination in Employment Act as well as the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act.
Lawyers for Manheim Township vehemently denied the allegations in a phone call to LNP on Thursday.
“We vigorously object and will defend against the allegations brought by Mr. Bunteman,” Lancaster attorney Theresa Mongiovi said.
Age discrimination alleged
The lawsuit, which lists Manheim Township as the only defendant, states a 28-year-old laborer was hired at the township without consulting Bunteman, who would have been the younger employee’s supervisor.
After being promoted to crew leader, the younger employee began to increasingly report to the township manager over Bunteman, the lawsuit states.
Bunteman complained to several township officials, including a township commissioner, according to the lawsuit. In January 2017, he was informed his position was terminated.
Responding in a court filing, Manheim Township lawyers said Bunteman was not fired and instead quit his position.
Following Bunteman’s departure, the township created a new head crew leader position, according to the lawsuit. The younger employee and another worker applied, but the 28-year-old got the job, according to the lawsuit. The other employee was more than 50 years old, the lawsuit states.
The new position was filled before the other employee turned in his application, according to the lawsuit.
Lawyers for Manheim Township deny the change.
“(Bunteman’s) personal life has been disrupted, and he has experienced fits of rage and depression when he recalls how his 30 years of service were discarded in favor of a younger, less qualified employee,” the lawsuit states.
Reached by LNP on Thursday, Lentz, Bunteman’s attorney, declined comment. “We would let the complaint speak for itself.”