As an age discrimination attorney, I am amazed by the San Francisco 49ers.
Turns out experience and high quality work may not be enough to keep your job if you’re with the San Francisco 49ers. I’m not talking about on the field; I’m talking about everyone else who helps the NFL team take the field.
In a recent age discrimination suit filed by the team’s longtime on-the-field announcer, Bob Sarlatte, he claimed that he and several other members of the team’s staff lost their jobs because they were too old. Sarlatte’s suit was recently filed in federal court in San Jose.
Sarlatte was 66 when he was told the team was “going in a new direction.” That’s the same thing that Anthony Lozano, 56, the team’s facilities manager, and Keith Yanagi, 59, its director of video operations were told when they found out they would be losing their jobs Sarlatte’s suit claims that’s 49er-speak for “you’re just too old.”
The age discrimination suit claims that the 49ers “engaged in a pattern and practice of eliminating its older workers, while attempting to rebrand the team as a younger, technology-driven organization.” This was seen as part of their rebranding after their move to Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara for the 2014-15 season.
The suit quotes 49ers CEO Jed York, saying that he preferred to hire mostly younger workers from Silicon Valley technology companies because “they did a lot of cool things before they turned 40 years old, and they don’t want to go play golf six days a week.”
The suit is similar to an age-discrimination case filed against the 49ers last year, by the same lawyers on behalf of Lozano and Yanagi. The 49ers denied that they engaged in age discrimination against these two men, but did reach a confidential settlement to settle their lawsuits. In that suit, the lawyers quoted York as saying, “Let’s go with the younger one” when he was deciding between two qualified candidates for another job in 2010.
It is also significant that when Rob Alberino, the 49ers’ vice president for broadcasting, called to tell Sarlatte that he was losing his job he said the job of field announcer was being eliminated several times. Soon after that, according to Sarlatte, the job was filled by a younger broadcasting employee, Bob Sargent.