A former San Francisco 49ers stadium announcer recently sued the team in federal court for age discrimination. He was with the team for 30 years. According to the lawsuit, he was hired in 1984 and fired in 2014, when he was 66 years old. In addition to being a stadium announcer, he was also an actor and a public speaker.
According to the lawsuit, the team was preparing for its 2014 move to a new stadium in Santa Clara. As part of that move, the team allegedly began getting rid of its older workers and attempted to rebrand the 49ers as a younger team that was driven by technology. The lawsuit also claims that the strategy was initiated in 2010 by the CEO of the 49ers, who wanted to promote the team as a technology startup as part of its move from San Francisco to Silicon Valley.
The lawsuit claims that the CEO began a campaign to fire the older, senior employees within the organization. The announcer claims that when he was fired, he was repeatedly told that the team was moving in a different direction. He kept questioning his manager, and was finally told that his position as field announcer was being eliminated. However, almost immediately the team hired a much younger man in the same position for the next season.
In 2015, two other employees who had been working with the 49ers filed an age discrimination suit against the team. Those employees were the former facility manager who was fired at age 56 after 22 years with the team, and the former video operations director, who was fired in 2011 at age 59 after 25 years with the team. That lawsuit ended in a confidential settlement in October.
The former announcer’s lawsuit claims the team violated the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, the California Fair Employment and Housing Act, as well as California public policy. The lawsuit is seeking compensation for back pay, punitive damages, as well as a reinstatement of the plaintiff as the announcer for the 49ers.
Age discrimination is illegal under both state and federal law, and involves treating either a job applicant or an employee less favorably because of his or her age. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act only forbids discrimination against people who are age 40 or older. Workers under the age of 40 are not protected. In addition, by law it is not illegal for an employer to favor an older worker over a younger worker, even if both workers are age 40 or older. Discrimination can occur when the victim and the person who discriminated are both over the age of 40.
In addition, it is also illegal to harass an employee because of his or her age. Although casual, playful teasing is not forbidden, if the comments are so frequent or severe that they result in a hostile or offensive work environment, they are illegal. The harasser can be the victim’s supervisor, another supervisor, a co-worker, or even someone who is not an employee.
At Liberty Law, Micha Star Liberty and Seth I. Rosenberg believe that older employees should be highly valued for their skills and experience, and if they are illegally discriminated against because of age, they should consider filing a lawsuit to protect their legal rights. Call the Oakland age discrimination attorneys at Liberty Law at 510-645-1000 or 415-896-1000 for a free consultation with our attorneys about your case. You may be entitled to compensation for back pay, lost benefits, emotional damages, and more. Call today to learn more or to schedule your free consultation.