Is 56 too old to work? City settles age discrimination claim

Daily Post Staff Writer

Palo Alto City Council has agreed to settle a lawsuit rather than go to trial against a former utilities worker who alleged that he was pushed out because of his age, court records show.

John Reinert, 56, said he retired early as a supervisor in the Waste, Gas and Wastewater Division because he had no shot at becoming the division manager.

Reinert said he was passed over for a promotion in favor of two younger and less qualified employees.

His boss told him the city was “looking more long term,” according to the lawsuit, filed in Santa Clara County Superior Court in November 2021.

Reinert’s case was scheduled to go to trial on April 24.

Council discussed the lawsuit in a closed session on Feb. 26 and again on Monday.
The two sides agreed to a settlement on Tuesday, court records show. The amount the city paid Reinert to settle wasn’t available.
His attorney Joseph Clapp said that he “wasn’t at liberty” to discuss the terms. City Attorney Molly Stump didn’t respond to a request for the settlement agreement.

In response to the lawsuit, lawyers said the city has enforced its policies against discrimination and promptly remedied any discrimination if it ever happened.

Reinert never named who his boss was in court.
Reinert claims he was first passed over in August 2020, when the city temporarily filled the position of division manager with an employee who had a shorter tenure and less qualifications than him.

Reinert’s boss allegedly said he thought Reinert wasn’t interested in the promotion because Reinert would be retiring soon.

Reinert said he had no plans to retire, and his boss promised to provide him with the next opportunity to become manager, the lawsuit says.

But on March 31, 2021, the city filled the position with yet another supervisor who had a shorter tenure and lesser qualifications, Reinert said.

When Reinert asked his boss what happened, the boss said Reinert wasn’t considered because the city “was looking more long term.”

Reinert resigned “because he reasonably believed that his promotional opportunities were foreclosed because of his age,” the lawsuit says.

Reinert received $284,252 in total pay and benefits in 2021, city records show.