The state?s supreme court will hear the case of Dan Esberg, who is suing his employer, Union Oil Company, for denying him access to company benefits allowing him to pursue his Master?s degree. According to Esberg, a supervisor said he was too old for that kind of investment, but the company says there were other factors in its decision. A California appeals court ruled that Esberg was not entitled to equal benefits. The case points out a loophole in California law. The state?s anti-discrimination laws protect older workers from dismissal, but does not guarantee them equal treatment when it comes to benefits. Older workers are protected by federal law, but most workers choose state courts to sue in because the awards can be larger and jurys' decisions are not required to be unanimous. If the lower court?s decision stands, the legislature will need to address the issue.
See Harriet Chiang, San Francisco Chronicle, May 6, 2002