Jury Backs Kansas City Chiefs in First of Three Age Discrimination Claims
A Missouri jury found that the Kansas City Chiefs did not fire a former employee because of his age, but the NFL franchise still faces two more age-discrimination lawsuits.
The complaints arise from a series of firings in the team’s “front office”—its administrative staff—after the 2009 arrival of Scott Pioli as the new general manager. Several former employees said they fell victim to a concerted scheme to make the staff younger.
On March 6, in the first case to reach trial, state court jurors found the Chiefs did not discriminate against Steve Cox because of his age. The former maintenance manager was fired in 2010, purportedly for giving an employee an unapproved raise.
Mr. Cox, then 61, had claimed that his firing violated the Missouri Human Rights Act, which outlaws workplace discrimination based on age. He asked for back pay of more than $400,000, plus damages. His lawyer said Mr. Cox would appeal.
Mr. Pioli himself was fired by the Chiefs at the start of 2013, and testified at the trial.
In addition to Mr. Cox’s possible appeal, the football team still faces two more age-bias lawsuits. Brenda Sniezek sued the Chiefs in 2011, claiming discrimination for her dismissal after nearly 30 years in the front office. And former controller Larry Clemmons also has a complaint working its way through the state courts.
The Chiefs had argued that both those disputes were governed by mandatory arbitration clauses in the employment contracts of Ms. Sniezek and Mr. Clemmons, and couldn’t be tried in a court. But in February a state appeals panel disagreed, allowing both cases to proceed as civil actions.
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