Senate

Report: Colorado “Senate Candidate Joe O’Dea Settled Age, Disability Discrimination Lawsuit with Ex-Employee in 2021”

Today, Colorado Newsline reported that Colorado Republican U.S. Senate candidate Joe O’Dea’s construction company settled a lawsuit brought by a former employee last year “who alleged a pattern of age and disability discrimination.”

The former employee claimed O’Dea “terminat[ed] older employees” and “dissuad[ed] employees from filing workers’ compensation claims.”

According to Newsline, “In her lawsuit, [she] alleged […] O’Dea not only ignored her concerns but said the firings served to bring down the company’s insurance premiums.” 

That employee also alleged that she faced a hostile work environment and reduced bonuses “following a cancer diagnosis in 2014.”

Since announcing his candidacy, O’Dea has repeatedly called for applying his ruthless business model to the federal government — even indicating that he would support cuts to Medicare and Social Security. 

Colorado Newsline: Senate candidate Joe O’Dea settled age, disability discrimination lawsuit with ex-employee in 2021

By Chase Woodruff | June 14, 2022

Key Points

  • “Republican U.S. Senate candidate Joe O’Dea’s construction company last year settled a lawsuit brought by a former employee who alleged a pattern of age and disability discrimination, federal court records show.”
  • “Johnson alleged that she had her bonuses reduced and faced a hostile work environment following a cancer diagnosis in 2014. She further accused O’Dea and other CEI executives of dissuading employees from filing workers’ compensation claims and terminating older employees, a pattern she said she was pressured into facilitating in her role as HR manager prior to being fired in December 2015.”
  • “In her lawsuit, Johnson alleged that when she raised the issue of potentially illegal terminations of older workers to CEI leadership, O’Dea not only ignored her concerns but said the firings served to bring down the company’s insurance premiums.”
  • “O’Dea asked the General Superintendent if the ‘old guys were a liability.’ The General Superintendent replied, ‘Yes,’” Johnson’s lawsuit alleged. “O’Dea told the General Superintendent to take care of it and ‘make it disappear.’ Johnson told O’Dea that she did not want to participate in the illegal activities but O’Dea made Johnson process the terminations.”
  • “Johnson was diagnosed with breast cancer in August 2014, and received ‘reluctant’ permission to both work from home and take periods of leave as she received treatment in the ensuing months, her lawsuit said. In December of that year, Johnson alleged, she received a ‘reduced’ annual bonus, and ‘was told it was because she was not in the office.”
  • “In a series of meetings in the fall of 2015, Johnson alleged, she’d witnessed CEI management ‘advising employees not to file workers’ compensation claims, and then firing those workers later.’ In a meeting on employee benefits with O’Dea and CEI chief financial officer Dennis Anhorn, Johnson claimed she was told that the company ‘need(ed) to get rid of these old sick people so our medical insurance won’t be so high.’”

Read the full report here.