The National Football League is being sued by nine former security representatives who claim they were fired by the league last year simply because they were too old.
According to a lawsuit obtained by The Blast, the nine men — James Buckley, Rodney Davis, Mario Di Fonzo, Edward L. Du Bois, III, Don Fuhrman, Walter Martin, Mark Ninehouser, Johnny Smith, and Richard Welsh — say they worked for the NFL for tenures ranging from 11-49 years.
The men all worked as “security representatives” for the league. The suit explains, “The NFL hires and assigns one security representative to each of the NFL’s 32 football teams to provide game day services, as well as stadium inspections, prescription drug audits, background checks, and investigative services, if the NFL so directs.”
Eight of the men worked for specific teams — New York Giants, New York Jets, Baltimore Ravens, Miami Dolphins, Buffalo Bills, Detroit Lions, Pittsburgh Steelers, Washington Redskins — while one worked out of Las Vegas and focused on investigative services and background checks.
According to the suit, Buckley, Du Bois, Fuhrman, Smith and Welsh are in their early 70s, while Davis, Di Fonzo, Martin and Ninehouser are in their 60s.
The men claim that they were all dismissed on July 20, 2017 after the new security chief, Cathy Lanier, said the league was “moving in a different direction.”
According to the men, none of the security representatives who were let go on that day were under the age of 60. The men claim that “the replacements hired … do not have qualifications or experience that are superior to those of the Plaintiffs. They are, however, between 10 and 25 years younger than the Plaintiffs.”
In the instance of one of the defendants, James Buckley, the lawsuit alleges that Lanier told the then-Director of Security, Michael Rahill, that “‘everyone loves JB,’ but that 70 is too old to walk the stadium.”
As the lawsuit points out, Buckley “is an avid gym-goer and weightlifter, he has a second-degree black belt in Karate, a brown belt in Tai Kwon Do, and celebrated his 70th birthday by doing shoulder shrugs with 600 pounds.”
The men filed their lawsuit Monday in federal court in New York. They claim the NFL violated the Age Discrimination in Employment Act and are seeking damages in excess of $10 million.
They also are claiming they are owed wages and benefits as they alleged they were misclassified as independent contractors instead of employees.
The Blast reached out to the NFL for comment — so far, no word back.