Two former employees of the San Francisco 49ers are suing the team. They are alleging that they were fired in 2011 because of their age. The men, who were both managers of the 49ers at the time they were fired, were both in their late fifties.
According to the lawsuit, the 49ers fired a number of senior managers in 2011 and 2012 in order to hire younger employees. At the time, the CEO allegedly said he wanted to hire younger technology workers from Silicon Valley because they made a lot of money, didn’t want to play golf six days a week, and did a lot of cool things before they turned forty. The men also claim that the owner was trying to rebrand the team as a “startup” before it moved to its new stadium in Silicon Valley.
Both of the men who were fired had worked with the team over twenty years and received excellent performance reviews during their years with the team. One of the men alleges that the team told him he was fired as Facilities Manager because the team was “going in a different direction.” The other man, who was Director of Video Operations, was fired for “undisclosed performance reasons.” The plaintiffs claim that they were pressured to sign their release papers without being given a proper amount of time to read over the legal documents. The men are suing for damages that stem from wrongful termination, fraud, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
If these allegations are true, the 49ers violated federal law. Age discrimination is illegal under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, which is a federal law that forbids age discrimination against people who are age forty or over. Workers under the age of forty are not protected by the law. Therefore, it’s legal for an employer to favor an older worker over a younger worker, but an employer cannot favor a younger worker over an older one solely because of age.
In many cases, companies may need to resort to layoffs when business is slow. Often, the newer employees are let go, which is understandable, but in many cases the senior employees are also laid off or fired. This usually happens because those workers have higher salaries, and the younger, less experienced workers cost less and may be considered better investments.
The law forbids discrimination because of an employee or potential employee’s age when it involves any aspect of employment, including firing, hiring, job assignments, pay or benefits, layoffs, promotions, or any other term or condition of employment. In addition, the law prohibits harassment at work because of an employee’s age. Harassment may include remarks that are so frequent or severe that they create a hostile or offensive work environment.
In addition to the federal laws, there are state laws in place that forbid age discrimination. In California, the Fair Employment and Housing Act prohibits harassment and discrimination in employment because of age, as well as a number of other factors.
In spite of these federal and state laws being in place, there are thousands of complaints filed every year with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission about age discrimination. Age discrimination can be humiliating, in addition to being financially devastating. Anyone who experiences age discrimination in California should speak with an Oakland age discrimination attorney immediately.
At Liberty Law, Micha Star Liberty believes that older employees should be treated with the respect that they deserve and that if they are discriminated against or harassed because of age, they should speak with an employment attorney right away. Call Micha Star Liberty at 510-645-1000 or 415-896-1000 for a free consultation if you believe you have been discriminated against at work because of your age.