Blaming age discrimination, lawyer says she didn’t get city job despite being only applicant

Decorative Scales of Justice in the Courtroom
Elena Alvarez sued the city of Melbourne this week in federal court.

A 63-year-old woman is suing over age discrimination, alleging that she was passed over for a government job even though she was the only one who applied.

Elena Alvarez filed her federal lawsuit against the city of Melbourne this week. Alvarez, a lawyer since 1994, applied for two openings — as an Assistant City Attorney/Legal Advisor and an Assistant City Attorney — for the city, located in Brevard County.

“Alvarez was well qualified for both positions,” her lawsuit said. “Of the two positions that Alvarez applied for, one had four applicants, but Alvarez was the only applicant for the other.”

During her second-round interview, Melbourne City Attorney Manny Anon brought up Alvarez’s age and asked why she wanted the Assistant City Attorney role so late in her career, her lawsuit said.

Ultimately, Alvarez said she found out she didn’t land either job.

“Alvarez ultimately learned that she was not selected for either available position — even though she was the only applicant for one of them,” the lawsuit said. “Alvarez also learned that Melbourne instead offered the Assistant City Attorney position to another younger, male candidate who had not even applied for it.”

The city declined to comment on pending litigation Friday, but spokesperson Cheryl Mall described the hiring process.

The city was recruiting for the two positions but decided not to hire anyone when the jobs closed May 31 and June 22, she said. The city reopened a single Assistant City Attorney position on Aug. 2 and closed the hiring process Sept 20. Alvarez did not apply the second time, Mall said.

The city then hired Kellen Simmons to be the Assistant City Attorney for $118,655 annually on Dec. 4. Mall declined to say how old he is, but according to the Florida Bar, he was admitted in 2011 — 17 years after Alvarez.

“The city may respond that they did not fill either position that Ms. Alvarez applied for.  But the attorney they initially offered the job that she applied for (Kellen Simmons), was ultimately hired as a city attorney.  They may have slightly modified the position to give them some cover, but its clear what happened,” said Alvarez’s attorney Scott Terry.

Alvarez found out she was the only applicant initially when she filed a public records request, he said.

According to her Florida Bar profile, Alvarez also has a clean record and no discipline in the past 10 years. The bilingual lawyer graduated from Western Michigan University’s Thomas M. Cooley Law School.

Accusing the city of illegal age discrimination, Alvarez is suing for front and back pay, compensatory damages for emotional pain, punitive damages, attorneys fees and other relief.

“As a result of Defendant’s unlawful discrimination, Plaintiff has suffered and continues to suffer damages,” the lawsuit said.

Gabrielle Russon

Gabrielle Russon is an award-winning journalist based in Orlando. She covered the business of theme parks for the Orlando Sentinel. Her previous newspaper stops include the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, Toledo Blade, Kalamazoo Gazette and Elkhart Truth as well as an internship covering the nation’s capital for the Chicago Tribune. For fun, she runs marathons. She gets her training from chasing a toddler around. Contact her at [email protected] or on Twitter @GabrielleRusson .


  • I hope she wins

    April 5, 2024 at 3:51 pm

    Good for her. Ageism is a cancer based in ignorance and predominantly affects women at the point in their careers where they are at the top of their game and have the most to offer. The entire economy suffers as a whole. The gender pay gap is very real, and affects everyone.

  • Never too old to work ask the GOP

    April 5, 2024 at 8:29 pm

    Ageism is as much alive as sexism. They tried to pull a fast one. BUSTED

  • Susan Johnson

    April 6, 2024 at 7:11 pm

    Glad she filed a suit and really hope she wins big time!!

  • Corruption is the name of this city

    April 9, 2024 at 9:09 am

    The city of Melbourne and Brevard County as a whole is corrupt. They still operate on the “good ol boy “ system; if the article is accurate then she is doing the right thing by taking the city to task. It’s blatant discrimination in each category: gender, age and race, as the lawyer filing suit is bilingual and if the last name is any indication, this is a Latina woman. Also, who gives the job to a MAN who is LESS qualified that didn’t even apply?! This is ridiculous and I hope she wins big. It would be a win for all of us who have faced the same thing in our careers. .

  • Daniella Gomez-Delpiatro

    April 9, 2024 at 7:25 pm

    Good for her. As a Latina woman myself, it’s disheartening to hear about cases of age discrimination. Every individual deserves fair treatment and opportunities regardless of age or ethnicity. It’s crucial for companies to prioritize diversity, equity, and inclusion to create a workplace where everyone feels valued and respected. I hope all parties involved are held accountable for their despicable actions.

Comments are closed.


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