Kathryn Moon + Julianne Taaffe

Kathryn Moon + Julianne Taaffe

Snarky comments that they “didn’t know how to turn on a computer,” loss of offices, status and, finally, the reclassification of their jobs from full to part-time just scratched the surface. When Kathryn Moon and Julianne Taaffe, English as a Second Language professors at Ohio State University, filed an age discrimination complaint in 2015, discovery yielded administrators’ e-mails about them, and fellow teachers over age 50.  “We were ‘albatrosses,’ we were ‘backwards-looking,’ we were ‘determined to push ESL back to the 1950s,’” said Taaffe, 63. It didn’t matter that she was eager to tackle an online textbook and help foreign graduate students and Teaching Assistants from China, Taiwan, Iran, India and Brazil gain proficiency in English, required for teaching. She was shut out. “We were too old,” she said. “They wanted a new look.” Moon, 68, found the e-mails devastating. “I experienced a real onslaught of self-doubt, questioning my value and my ability to contribute to a workplace,” she said. The strength of their claim led Ohio State to settle in 2018. The two are back at work, with a different boss and no plans to retire. “I like the job. I like the students,” said Taaffe. “I’m going to stick around.”

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