Tomothy O’Donnell, 73, Ray Elms, 63, and Harry Harsin, 56, have claimed that the Borough of Belmar has violated the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (N.J.S.A. 10:5-12) (LAD) by deliberately not re-hiring them because of their age.
The lawsuit also claims that the borough h made defamatory remarks that damaged their reputations leading to “ridicule and contempt”and being “avoided and shunned” by members of the Belmar community. The suit mentions Mayor Matthew Doherty for alleged “remarks about unattended life-guard stands and resident complaints in a published report and in an open Borough Council meeting.” The suit mentions Chief of Police Andrew Huisman and former mayor Brian MaGovern, aka “the MaGovenor of Belmar” (this guy’s last name looks like he literally smushed together the words “mayor” and “govern” as if he had severe short-term memory problems and constantly needed to be reminded of what he did for a living. Every-time he saw his name he’d think: oh that’s right, I am the Mayor and I govern the town! On the tip of my tongue!)
(A“Elms, Harsin and O’Donnell are demanding back pay and benefits, reimbursement for medical expenses and punitive and other damages, as well as legal and court fees” (Asbury Park Press).
So who to side with? It’s not so simple, such is life.
On one hand, most would agree that it is not UNREASONABLE that the town thinks a few geezers aren’t the most physically well-equipped to be saving people from undercurrents.
If I am being pulled out by a rip-current and see that my only chance at survival is someone who’s most recent swim looks like it was in their water calisthenics class, I wouldn’t die from drowning…I’d die from a panic induced heart attack. No one wants a person that gets helped across the street to be the one responsible for their lives. Drowners don’t want to look over and see a lifeguard swimming towards with the majority of their skin dragging in the water behind the rest of their body. People want to be revived by the bright red lips of Wendy Peffercorn’s mouth-to-mouth, or carried out of the sea in the bosom of Pamela Anderson’s cleavage (the ocean isn’t the only salty-thing cumming out of the water)….hell, I’ll even take being carried off in by the Handsome David Hasselhoff (getting a free ride like Spongebob).
You don’t want to get mouth-to-mouth and accidentally end up wearing your lifeguard’s dentures , or worse, your lifeguard takes their dentures out before mouth-to-mouth so all of their saliva free-falls from their glands directly into your throat. But if that ever happens to you, I pray that you like the taste of canned tuna.
Considering the average age of death was 72 not long ago, a lot of people would say that 73 is too old to do any job. Think about all the people that you hear of having heart attack’s or strokes in their early 50’s…now think about how much the risk of a heart attack or stroke goes up 20 years after that…now think about the risk with the stress of this job being literally life or death for both the guard and swimmers. Just thinking about that gave me a high blood pressure problem.
Yes, Belmar probably was worried about their own liability if a drowning person errand/or member of the geriatric trio died in the water. But put yourself in their shoes and ask yourself this: is your own enjoyment worth increasing the risk of someone else’s death? Wouldn’t someone who guards lives want to reduce risk of death, rather than increase it?
After reading the lawsuit for the first time, I imagined what It’d be like if I was the mayor finding out about the suit for the first time. I’d probably think, C’mon on man, I have all this shit to deal with and now I have this….all I wanted to do was the right thing….I just didn’t want anyone to die because our lifeguards are too old.
How the hell do these guys really think they’ll be able to convince anyone that people saying that they were too old to be lifeguards actually damaged their reputations and lead to community shunning and ridicule? Well, it’s actually easy to believe. I literally just trying to argue reasons why the Borough was right not to re-hire the guards earlier, which quickly spiraled to implications that these guys actually value their own personal satisfaction more than another’s entire life–which I don’t believe is the case (but if it is, fuck em’) because they aren’t demanding their jobs back, but back-pay and benefits.
The men claim that their replacements were younger, but unqualified, so it should have been in Belmar’s best interest to re-hire the 3 Musketeers. And it’s easy as hell to quickly twist this line of reasoning against them….because you could aliken them to villains–real or fictional.
The cliche movie villain our time is the one that does bad things, but for reasons they think are ‘good’ or ‘right.’ Take Thanos merking 1/2 of earth, or Thanos killing the only thing he’s ever loved–his daughter Amora, or extracting information from his other daughter using torture (dismantling her body parts one by one)….damn Thanos was a really bad dude. But nevertheless, he thought he was doing his way of giving all species across the universe a bountiful life of salvation. To him, Thanos’s ends justified his means.
Historical leaders that committed these crimes against humanity often believed their wctions were justified. Leaders thought those people needed an ‘ethnic cleansing,” like when Hitler
ordered “the incurably sick” to be “involuntary euthanized.” Hitler thought what he was doing was right, despite everyone in the world (literally) hating him for being so f**king wrong…..Just like our elderly lifeguards! Hitler and the guard’s are a lot alike, especially in their general philosophical beliefs. They both do whatever they think is right–no matter what everyone else thinks, no matter the cost. You see how quickly you can turn someone from being saintly to demonizing? They went from men trying to save as many as possible to monsters that didn’t care if members of the Belmar community died as long as they got to relax on the beach all day.
Plus, you can’t blame them for being pissed that the “unattended stands” we’re implied as their fault for age-related reasons like their memory failed them or they didn’t have the energy to guard or their senile mind had them wandering off.
Not only would that piss-off anyone that’s older in their situation, but that’d literally be discriminatory and a direct violation of the New Jersey.
Now I understand where their coming from and now I don’t know whose side I am on.
Harsin (The 56 year-old one because I know you don’t remember) would probably have an easier time getting his job back if he filed his own lawsuit against the town. Pretty much every guy I am close with around that age is in solid shape–not that I am close with many mid 50 year-old men. My dad and all my uncles are actually all in good shape and diet and exercise. Now, don’t get me wrong, they aren’t looking like roided Rocky Balboa in Rocky VI 60 leathery old ass made an impossible return to the ring. All I am saying is that I’d be confident in their physical ability to go save a benny from the water. Saoul Mamby boxed until he was 60. Would he have been fired from being a lifeguard?
From a legal standpoint, the water is murky. On one hand, if the lifeguards are able to pass the required fitness tests, perform any and all necessary training or duties, etc., then what is the legitimate reason they weren’t re-hired? You can’t say their age makes them too weak or slow or unhealthy as they literally just proved those claims wrong by meeting all the criteria of the physical or mental tests. The town’s reasoning for firing someone can’t just be “they’re too old to do the job,” because, firstly, it’s ageist, and secondly, the tests prove they’re not too old to do the job. And it’s not like the job requires someone young to be done. Like if the job was a middle school aged child acting gig, then obviously an old person wouldn’t be hired for that because they literally cannot do it. Think of a professional athlete…if a professional athlete is on the older side of the spectrum, but they’re doing well, they’re not going to get fired because they’re an old player.
Take NFL’s Tom Brady or Adam Vinatieri…both are doing well, no one thinks they’re too old to perform, and no one would think they’re too old to play well, let alone play, should they return next season. Even if a professional athlete isn’t playing all that great, but can still compete–aka play just as good as a younger, averagely skilled player–they’ll still have no trouble finding work. The NBA has a number of players that are way past the average retirement , but they continue to stay restored, despite typically riding the bench. Why? Because they CAN; because they love the sport so much that if they literally able to play, they will.
On the other-hand, Belmar sort of also has an argument. As you get older, the risk of you having a critical health-accident increases dramatically, especially for those with high-stress jobs, and those who put a lot of physical stress on their body. You never know when one of these random, freak things will happen…all you know is that as your age goes up, so does the probability of having said random health-emergency. At what point, if ever, are they unnecessarily increasing the risk of a swimmer’s survival by having one of these older men as the lifeguard on duty? Board members of Corporations vote out CEO’s all of the time when they believe that said CEO has become too old to run the company as efficiently as possible…CEO’s are voted out to limit the risk of financial loss. Is that really any different than Belmar not re-hiring the guards?