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Las Vegas water district settles age-discrimination lawsuit

The Las Vegas Valley Water District has settled a lawsuit with 15 former employees who accused the utility of age discrimination and retaliation.

A federal judge in Las Vegas officially dismissed the 2015 suit on Tuesday, citing the completion of a confidential settlement.

The employees sued after they were laid off in 2014 as part of 101-person staff reduction at the district and its umbrella agency, the Southern Nevada Water Authority.

The plaintiffs, who referred to themselves in their lawsuit as the “Senior Sixteen,” claimed they were dismissed as they approached retirement age so the two agencies could replace them with less-experienced, lower-paid workers. They also claimed they were targeted because they were potential “whistleblowers” who knew about “two or more separate individual debacles” that collectively cost the the water district more than $150 million.

The case was originally filed in Clark County District Court, then moved to federal court.

The “Senior Sixteen” became 15 earlier this year, when U.S. District Judge Jennifer Dorsey ruled in favorof the water district in a separate suit brought by Lyndalou Bullard. Dorsey ruled that the former employee “had no evidence to support her federal, anti-discrimination claims” and ordered her to pay the district more than $12,000 in legal costs.

District officials did not respond to a request for comment on Wednesday.

Attorney Matthew Callister, who represented Bullard and the others, said he could not discuss the terms of the settlement because the district wanted it to be confidential.

“But we’re happy it’s resolved. Everybody is pleased,” Callister said.

At the time they were laid off, the plaintiffs ranged in age from 41 to 67. Most were in their mid- to late-50s and held senior positions with the water district, the authority or both.

They argued in their lawsuit that the district violated its own employment policies by not keeping workers with the most seniority or at least giving senior employees a chance to “bump” newer ones from equal or lower-paid positions when the layoffs came.

Contact Henry Brean at hbrean@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0350. Follow @RefriedBrean on Twitter.

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