Best Ohio Age Discrimination Attorney Answer: Can my job fire me because it wants “hipper” employees? I’m over 40 and I was just offered a severance agreement and told to sign it immediately. Can my boss do that? How long do I get to review a severance agreement? Can an employer chose job candidates based on age?
A pair of former employees are suing the San Francisco 49ers and team owner Jed York for wrongful termination, alleging they were fired because of their age. In their age discrimination complaint, the men, who were both in their fifties when the 49ers let them go, allege that York was attempting to bring in a younger workforce with the specific goal of remaking the organization in the mold of a hip Silicon Valley startup. This rebranding was apparently part of a broader, ultimately successful, effort by the 49ers to move from Candlestick Park to a new stadium in Santa Clara, in the heart of Silicon Valley. According to the complaint, in describing why he wanted younger employees, York said that young tech workers, “made a lot of money, they did a lot of cool things before they were 40 years old, and they don’t want to go play golf six days a week.”
The men are suing under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (“ADEA”), which, like Ohio statute (R.C. § 4112.02(N), R.C. § 4112.05, R.C. § 4112.14), makes it unlawful for an employer to discriminate against an employee or applicant based on that person’s age. As our employment discrimination attorneys have blogged about age discrimination before, usually employers do not come right out and announce that they are dumping older workers because of their age. Rather, most employers will say they are facing budgetary problems of some sort and must make “workforce reductions,” or that they are undertaking a “structural reorganization.”
However, if Anthony Lozano and Keith Yanagi are to be believed, Jed York and the 49ers are not most companies. The men are asserting that not only did York sing the praises of young Silicon Valley workers, he openly made choices among applicants based specifically on their respective ages. Their suit alleges that when asked which of two qualified candidates York preferred, he stated, “Let’s go with the younger one.” The suit further alleges that Lozano was ridiculed over his gray hair and was asked, “How much longer do you intend to work?” Both men were informed that the 49ers had simply chosen to “go in a different direction,” despite each having stellar work history with the organization, the complaint alleges.
Aside from the allegations of age discrimination, the complaint against the 49ers alleges violations of the Older Workers Benefits Protection Act of 1990 (“OWBPA”). As our employment discrimination lawyers have also blogged about before, part of the ADEA and the OWBPA, requires that when any worker over 40 years old is terminated and offered a severance agreement, the employer follow certain procedures. (see Age Discrimination: A Severance Agreement May Not Block Claims). Among other necessary steps, an employer must give an employee at least 21 days to consider the agreement, and 45 days if a group of employees is being terminated. Both men contend that they were urged to sign their respective severance agreements “immediately.”
While the complaint does not state whether Lozano and Yanagi were replaced and, if so, whether they were replaced by younger employees, the facts that each man appears to have been a qualified employee and each was given a rather vague reason for his termination, combined with York’s unguarded comments about his preference for young workers should warrant concern.
If you are an employee over the age of 40 years old and believe that you are being discriminated because you are older than other employees; or have be wrongfully terminated or fired instead of someone younger or were replaced with some younger than you, you may have an age discrimination claim under Ohio law or the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA). Even if you are not sure about your age discrimination claim, you should call the right attorney as quickly as possible to schedule a free and confidential consultation at (216) 291-4744. Age discrimination claims have very short statute of limitations, which means that you only have a very short amount of time to figure out if you have an age discrimination claim and take action. It is unlawful for employers to treat older employees differently. At the free initial consultation, you can tell us the specifics about how “my boss did …” or what happened on “my job.”
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