$787K Dillard's Age Case

$787,000 VERDICT IN DILLARD'S AGE CASE

SUMMARY: At the time of his termination, Dorman Hartley was 64 years old. Hartley had over 46 years experience in Department Store retailing. He was the second oldest store manager in the Arkansas Division of Dillard's, which consists of some 70-85 stores in 8 states. For the ten years immediately prior to his termination, Hartley had been the Manager of the McCain Mall store, which produced some of the highest dollar volumes in gross sales and profit in the Arkansas Division.

Throughout Mr. Hartley's tenure, the McCain Store always made a profit. The store made Dillard's over $58 million in profit under Mr. Hartley's management. Though concededly below his "banner year" [in 1995], Hartley's last two full years, 1997 and 1998, netted Dillard income ranging between five (1998) to six point seven million (1997) dollars. During the same period, many of the Arkansas Division stores did not make any income. In fact some, such as the Mall of Memphis Store, lost over one million dollars in 1999. Younger store managers heading the unprofitable stores were not fired. Only one other manager was removed for sales performance other than Mr. Hartley and that manager [aged 49] was offered transfer as manager to another Dillard store in lieu of demotion or termination.

Mr. Hartley had been out of the store on vacation in August 1999. He was fired his first day back [ostensibly for store performance and for an untidy store]. His Assistant manager, aged 34 [who had been left in charge during Mr. Hartley's absence], was not disciplined. A younger man, aged 32 [half Mr. Hartley's age exactly], replaced Mr. Hartley.

The Jury returned a verdict for the plaintiff, Hartley, finding 'willful' Age Discrimination and assessing back pay at $237,669.00. The interrogatory answer finding willfulness resulted in doubling the back pay to $475,338.00. To that figure, the Court awarded 'front pay' or future lost wages of $246,774.05 and attorney's fees & costs of $54,932.00 and $10,336.86, increasing the award to $787,380.91 total.

CASE NAME / NUMBER: Hartley v. Dillard's, Inc. NO. LR-CIV-2000-289 COURT: USDC [Eastern]- Hon. Wm. R. Wilson

DEMAND: Dillard's declined to discuss settlement.

EXPERTS: Dr. Charles Venus, a consulting economist, testified as to front pay values, trends in the department store industry and future employability.

DATE TRIED: The case was tried to a jury September 24-28, 2001.

REPORTING COUNSEL: Morgan E. "Chip" Welch and Gerry Schulze -- Eubanks, Welch, Baker & Schulze of Little Rock.

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