Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon.
Nicholas J. Bua, Judge, presiding.
MR. JUSTICE SCHAEFER DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:
Rehearing denied January 28, 1977.
The dominant question in this case is whether a civil action for damages exists for a violation of the statute which the parties refer to as the "Age Discrimination Act." (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1975, ch. 48, pars. 881-887.) The circuit court of Cook County dismissed a complaint based primarily upon an alleged violation of that statute, and the plaintiff's appeal was brought to this court under Rule 302(b).
The statute was enacted in 1967. Its full title is "An Act to prohibit unjust discrimination in employment because of age and providing for penalties." Section 1 contains the following legislative declaration:
"(a) The General Assembly declares that the practice of discriminating in employment against properly qualified persons because of their age is contrary to American principles of liberty and equality of opportunity, deprives the State of the fullest utilization of its capacities for production and endangers the general welfare.
(b) Hiring bias against workers over 45 years of age deprives the State of its most important resource of experienced employees, adds to the number of persons receiving public assistance and deprives older people of the dignity and status of self-support.
(c) The right to employment otherwise lawful without discrimination because of age, where the reasonable demands of the position do not require such an age distinction, is hereby recognized as and declared to be a right of all the people of the State which shall be protected as provided herein.
(d) It is hereby declared to be the policy of the State to protect the right recognized and declared in paragraph (c) of this Section and to eliminate all such discrimination to the fullest extent permitted. This Act shall be construed to effectuate such policy." (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1975, ch. 48, par. 881.)
"It is an unlawful employment practice for an employer:
(1) to refuse to hire, to discharge, or otherwise to discriminate against any individual with respect to his terms, conditions or privileges of employment, otherwise lawful, because of such individual's age * * *." (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1975, ch. 48, par. 884.)
"Any person who wilfully fails, neglects or refuses to comply with this Act shall be guilty of a petty offense and fined not less than $50 nor more than $100 for each such offense." Ill. Rev. Stat. 1975, ch. 48, par. 887.
The complaint alleges that the plaintiff, James N. Teale, was employed by the defendant, Sears, Roebuck and Company, in 1946. His varied activities as an employee during the intervening years until January 1, 1975, are described, and the description indicates progressively increasing responsibility until in 1970 he was the national buyer of audio accessories and repair parts. His work was always done in a manner satisfactory to the defendant. On November 11, 1974, he was informed that his position would be eliminated, and he was involuntarily retired on January 31, 1975, at the age of 56 years. It is alleged that "the job performed by Plaintiff immediately prior to his involuntary retirement and those functions performed ...