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OFF BEAT: Firings for on-the-job sharing of sexually explicit photos upheld


Age is no excuse for viewing pornography at work, a Philadelphia-based appeals court has ruled.

According to the decision by the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia in Douglas Hodczak vs. Latrobe Specialty Steel Co., it was discovered during a 2007 investigation into a sexual harassment complaint that six employees of the company regularly exchanged emails containing sexually explicit photographs.

In accordance with company policy, LSS suspended the six employees. Then about a week later, it terminated four of them, all of whom were in their late 50s or early 60s, according to the decision.

The workers filed suit in federal court, alleging that LSS discriminated against them because of their age. The district court granted summary judgment in the company’s favor, ruling that the plaintiffs failed to demonstrate that, but for their age, LSS would not have terminated their employment.

The appeals court agreed with the lower court in its Nov. 17 decision, originally reported by the Delaware Employment Law Blog.

“Given the conduct in which appellants engaged and the lack of sufficient evidence suggesting an atmosphere of age discrimination at LSS, there is no basis for a finding that LSS’ proffered rationale was a pretext for age discrimination,” the appeals court ruled unanimously.