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Cavalier Telephone settles age-discrimination suit

A telecommunications company has settled an age-discrimination lawsuit about its Mid-Atlantic hiring practices for $1 million, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said Monday.

The federal agency said Cavalier Telephone had made a practice since 2003 of skipping over applicants age 40 or older for sales jobs, saying "both verbally and in writing that the company was looking for candidates for its sales positions who were 'recent college graduates,' and in their 'early 20s or 30s.'"

It's illegal to make hiring decisions based solely on age, the EEOC said. The settlement money will go to applicants who weren't hired due to their age, as well as to two former employees who were demoted after complaining about the hiring practices, the agency said.

Cavalier, based in Virginia, was bought in December — after the suit was filed — by New York-based PAETEC. PAETEC's general counsel, Mary O'Connell, said in a statement that the recruiting problems at the heart of the suit ended years ago but that the company was continuing "to ensure compliance with laws and ethical behavior" by Cavalier employees.

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