The Kansas City Chiefs have been accused of age discrimination by a former employee by the name of Brenda Sniezek.
Sniezek was employed by the Chiefs from March of 1982 until January of 2011. In her complaint, filed to the Circuit Court of Jackson County, at Independence, Sniezek claims the Chiefs engaged in unlawful employment practices by demonstrating a pattern of age discrimination that ended in the termination of multiple senior employees.
Sniezek’s claims in the complaint are often somewhat unsettling and specific. Often directly quoting high ranking members of the Chiefs’ front office.
Right off the bat, the complaint implicates GM Scott Pioli. Sniezek claims Pioli was overheard saying “We’re going to get rid of everyone who was with Carl Peterson [the former general manager], especially anyone over the age of 40.” The document does not, however, give any more specifics on this particular quote.
The claims do not focus on Sniezek alone and there are a couple of examples of incidents involving other terminated employees.
“In January 2010, Ann Roach, an employee with 40 years with the organization was told she needed to retire or she would be terminated. After that, more older employees were terminated.”
There are a couple of incidents involving Chiefs President Mark Donovan. The document alleges that Donovan referred to Larry Clemons, the former controller, as “that old guy.” The document goes on to say that Clemons was later fired by new CFO Dan Crumb after refusing to retire.
“Despite Clemons’ insistence that he didn’t want to retire, and even after he protested that his treatment was age discrimination, he was terminated. Clemons was also told they needed someone in his position that would be there for the next ten to twenty years and was told by Crumb ‘well, you’re the last of them,” the document reads. It goes on to say that Clemons was replaced a week after his termination with someone in their mid-30’s.
Sniezek also claims that the Chiefs told her that they were “eliminating” her position but that the team has simply temporarily re-assigned her former duties.
The document then lays out Sniezek’s professional accomplishments in 2010 before noting that despite all of those accomplishments, she was given an unfavorable performance review. Sniezek’s side claims the review was a “false and pretextual attempt to paper Sniezek’s file” because they planned to “get rid of her.”
Next, the document outlines what was said at a Director’s meeting in January of 2011:
“On January 5, 2011 at a directors’ meeting Mark Donovan was discussing playoff bonuses,” the complaint states. “In response, the CFO Dan Crumb publicly stated, ‘These old people around here think they’re entitled to everything,’ and in response two newly hired executives (in their early 30′s) followed with their opinion of ‘old people’ and their expectations. President Donovan commented that this it the type of discussion ‘I like to hear’ at director’s meetings. Afterwards, plaintiff felt a ‘pit in her stomach.’ Another director (in his mid-fifties) told plaintiff that he would not return to another director’s meeting because of those venomous (ageist) comments, and soon he left the Chiefs.” (Parentheses in complaint.)
Finally the complaint claims that on “On January 26th, 2011, as to every person with significant tenure and responsibility who was terminated, each has been replaced by a significantly younger employee.”
It is certainly a fascinating read. I will be interested to see if any of the other employees mentioned, particularly Mr. Clemmons and the unnamed executive from the Jan. 5th, 2011 director’s meeting, come forward to corroborate Sniezek’s claims.
You can read the entire complain here.