What should the court decide? Why?

A 51-year-old engineer was terminated during a RIF. In total, nineteen employees were terminated. All three of the engineers terminated were over 40. None of the twenty-two engineers who were under age 40 were terminated. Fourteen of the nineteen employees terminated were over 40. During the RIF, the company had hired four engineers right out of college. The company said that it did so because it had extended job offers to the students prior to the beginning of the RIF and it did not want to harm its reputation and future college recruiting. The 51-year-old engineer had received consistently strong performance reviews regarding his technical skills, but was also told repeatedly that his “soft skills” were lacking. He was counseled to improve his relationships with managers and coworkers. These criticisms resulted in low overall performance ratings. In the year he was terminated, he was one of the lowest-ranked engineers. However, three employees with the same or lower rankings were retained (two of whom were under 40) despite the RIF. The lowest-ranked engineer was retained because he was seen by the employer as possessing “critical skills.” The 51-year-old engineer sued. What should the court decide? Why?

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