A jury has ordered the Ground Round restaurant chain to pay four employees $6.7 million, agreeing that they had been laid off because of their ages.

The former employees, all between 44 and 50 when they were fired, had worked for the Braintree-based company for 24 to 32 years. The company said it dismissed the workers in 1993 as part of a reorganization plan.But the jury found Tuesday that Ground Round fired the workers because it wanted to replace them with younger workers who were paid less.

The company said the employees were four of 19 fired for legitimate reasons and that age was not a reason. It said it will appeal.

"These were good people, really hard workers who loved their jobs - and then they were just fired," said the workers' attorney, Sally Fleschner.