Jed York and 49’ers and “Legacy Employees”

When it rains, it pours. Just ask Jed York of the San Francisco 49’ers. He’s the guy who ostensibly partly owns and runs the team and who recently dumped head coach Jim Harbaugh for, well we don’t know yet (but I bet he hasn’t taken his team to 3 NFC Championship Games and a Super Bowl in the last 4 years). And now, Jed and his 49’ers are facing a lawsuit in federal court brought by two former employees who are accusing the York Gang of age discrimination in violation of FEHA, among other things.

The lawsuit was brought by Anthony Lozano and Keith Yanagi, both former long-time employees of the 49’ers. They claim they were terminated because of their age.

Anthony Lozano was hired by the 49’ers in 1989 as a Facilities Manager. During his 22 year tenure with the 49’ers, Lozano claims an excellent work history with commendations, consistent positive performance reviews and was even named Employee of the Month in 2010.

Keith Yanagi has a similar history. The 49’ers hired Yanagi in 1987 as a video assistant. In 2004, the 49’ers promoted Yanagi to Director of Video Operations. Yanagi also asserts he was an excellent employee with an outstanding employment record including excellent performance evaluations.

The complaint alleges Jed York wanted a younger 49’ers staff so they would reflect Silicon Valley, the new home of the 49’ers. Plaintiffs claim York even hired Gideon Yu, a relatively young whippersnapper and a Facebook, YouTube, Yahoo-kinda guy in order to promote York’s “technology strategy.” Plaintiffs claim Yu referred to older workers as “legacy employees.”

Plaintiffs say the York Gang engaged in a group termination of older employees while attempting to keep it a secret and by “encouraging” the discarded Legacy Employees to sign York Gang approved severance agreements.

This is a case to watch because not only are age discrimination cases difficult to win, but what allegedly occurred here is becoming more and more common. Plus, we have the 49’ers and Jed York as defendants at a time when both— York, at least—aren’t very popular with the fans.

I bet plaintiffs’ counsel are just counting the days to Jed York’s deposition. I’d probably pay money—not as much as a ticket to a 49’ers game—just to watch, especially after hearing Jed York’s pitiful performance with KNBR’s Brian Murphy the other day.

Listen for yourself:

Wow. That was an interview! York was arrogant and smug and just plain awful. He’s got a lot of work to do before he is deposed, because if he comes across like he did in this interview with his silly talking points, he’s going to look to a jury like a spoiled rich kid who doesn’t get it. Does a guy who sounds like a spoiled rich kid who doesn’t get it sound like a guy who would get rid of his Legacy Workers?

You can read the complaint, here:  2014-01-02 Lozano v 49ers COMPLAINT

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