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Chiefs sued for age discrimination

The Kansas City Chiefs organization is facing an age discrimination lawsuit filed by a former maintenance manager for the organization. The man, who worked for the Chiefs for 12 years, claims wrongful termination in connection with his dismissal from employment two years ago. He alleges that although he received good performance evaluations and no complaints about his work performance, he was fired and replaced by a younger worker.

The former employee's attorney is seeking to establish at trial that the Chiefs' former general manager, Scott Pioli, micro-managed every aspect of the Arrowhead Stadium complex, including which people were present when the team practiced. The trial is expected to take two weeks to complete. After it concludes, the Chiefs organization will face other age discrimination claims that are pending.

Missouri is an employment-at-will state, meaning an employer generally does not need to give a reason why an employee is being fired. While an at-will employer need not show cause for an employee's discharge, there are certain things that cannot form the basis of a discharge decision. Under both state and federal employment law, it is unlawful to fire an employee based on the employee's protected class status such as age, race, religion or gender. If there is evidence that an employee was fired due to unlawful discrimination, the employee could pursue a claim for wrongful termination.

The legal prohibitions against age discrimination go beyond wrongful dismissal. An employer cannot base other employment actions, such as hiring decisions, promotional opportunities and other terms and conditions of employment, on an employee's age. Employees who believe they have been discharged or otherwise discriminated against on the basis of age or other protected class status may find it beneficial to consult with an experienced employment lawyer about their rights and possible courses of action.

Source: FOX 4 News, "Chiefs fight age discrimination lawsuit," Michelle Pekarsky, Feb. 15, 2013

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