J.C. Penney Co. Inc. has been hit with a second age discrimination lawsuit in six months for layoffs the company made in 1987.
A former manager who was laid off from the J.C. Penney store in Valley Fair Mall filed a $1 million suit against the company in federal court Thursday. In his suit, Michael Herbert, 42, says the company violated federal anti-age discrimination laws when it laid him off in 1987.Herbert had worked at J.C. Penney for 19 years when the company laid him off, telling him that his position was being eliminated to make room for district management personnel displaced by the company's reorganization, the suit says.
But Herbert says that reason was a pretext for firing him because of his age. "J.C. Penney willfully failed and refused to retain plaintiff because of his age," the suit said.
Herbert's job was not given to a displaced district manager, as the company told him it would be. Instead, it was given to a younger employee who had less seniority in the company and made less money, the suit said.
He seeks $1 million for lost wages and benefits plus an unspecified amount of punitive damages to be determined at trial.
"Mr. Herbert still doesn't make what he made when he left Penney's," said his attorney, Mark McDougal.
A manager from the J.C. Penney Ogden store sued the company in October, charging that he and seven other managers fired from the Ogden store in 1987 were fired because of their age.
The October suit, filed by Joseph Francis, said that all seven managers were over 40 years old. All managers hired to replace those fired were under 40, his suit said.
"These men were upper level management who had been working for the company for 20 years. You get them in the work place and they are over-qualified. It's pretty tough for them to relocate at anywhere near that standard of living," McDougal said.
Herbert has demanded a jury trial. Francis' suit is scheduled for trial in August. The Deseret News tried unsuccessfully to reach a J.C. Penney attorney for comment.