White River Health faces age discrimination suit

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The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed a lawsuit Feb. 7 against White River Health System in Batesville, Ark., accusing the system of firing employees over age 72 due to shortcomings in its insurance policy.

Among other age-related terminations, the lawsuit alleges two senior center directors, ages 77 and 80, were fired in October 2018 because the system's insurance policy didn't cover employees over age 72 driving. The health system didn't try to switch policies, the suit alleges.

White River Health System President and CEO Gary Paxson said in an emailed statement that the system was "surprised and disappointed" by the lawsuit, and that the claims of age discrimination were "baseless."

"WRHS strongly denies allegations that the claimants were discharged for any reason related to their age," Mr. Paxson said. "WRHS made efforts not only to accommodate these aggrieved former employees but also to provide them with continued employment. WRHS's mission as a charitable healthcare organization is to serve the community, and it does so through operation of the Senior Life Centers at the heart of the EEOC’s lawsuit."

Editor's note: This article was updated at 8:15 a.m. on Feb. 12, 2020 to include the statement from White River Health System.

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