Calif. Lawsuit Alleges Age Discrimination in Circuit City Layoffs

April 6, 2007

Three Circuit City employees laid off as part of a restructuring measure announced last week have sued the electronics retailer, alleging it violated California law prohibiting age discrimination.

Daniel Weidler, Michael Yezback and Eloise Garcia, who worked at the Circuit City store in Oxnard, also alleged wrongful termination in a lawsuit filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court.

The lawsuit against Richmond, Va.-based Circuit City Stores Inc. seeks class action status.

Jackie Foreman, a Circuit City spokeswoman, said the retailer doesn’t comment on pending litigation.

The company, facing larger competitors and falling sales, said last week that it would immediately lay off 3,400 workers earning “well above the market-based salary range for their role” and replace them with lower-paid new hires.

The laid-off workers will get a severance package and a chance to reapply for their former jobs, at lower pay, after 10 weeks, the company said. It has declined to say how much those laid off were paid and how much the new workers will make.

Weidler, Yezback, and Garcia claimed they were let go because they were better paid than other workers thanks to their higher seniority at the store.

“The workers terminated were those with greater seniority and length of service — mostly likely the older members of the work force,” the lawsuit said. It cites California law, which states that “the use of salary as the basis for differentiating between employees when terminating employment may … constitute age discrimination.”

Weidler, 57, said he worked for Circuit City for 11 years; Yezback, 59, said he was with the company for 41/2 years; and Garcia, 66, said she was employed for 171/2 years.

The lawsuit seeks a jury trial and an unspecified amount in damages.

The company reported that it lost $12.2 million in the three months ended Feb. 28, compared with a profit of $141.4 million in the same period a year earlier.

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