Mattress Giant Forced Out Older Workers in Favor of Younger Staff, Says EEOC
LAS VEGAS - The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) today announced that it has filed an age discrimination lawsuit against Mattress Firm on behalf of a class of older workers who were forced out and replaced by younger staff in the greater Las Vegas area.
Store managers and salespersons over 40 years of age endured Mattress Firm's campaign to edge them out upon the retail giant's 2007 acquisition of a Las Vegas mattress chain, Bedtime Mattress, contends the EEOC. Senior management officials allegedly conspired to force out the older staff, which comprised a majority at the time, by intentionally treating them less favorably than incoming younger staff.
The EEOC asserts that older workers were pushed to work harder and held to a higher work standard, demoted to work under less experienced and younger staff, denied promotional opportunities, denied training and access to computer systems, and/or had their commissions diluted. Ultimately, older workers felt compelled to quit or were otherwise forced out. By the end of 2007, Mattress Firm successfully replaced them with an influx of younger and less experienced store managers and salespersons that made up the new overwhelming majority.
Such alleged conduct violates the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA). The EEOC filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada (EEOC v. Mattress Firm, Inc., Case No. Case 2:13-cv-01745) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The EEOC's suit seeks back pay and liquidated damages for the class of older workers as well as injunctive relief intended to prevent further age discrimination at the company.
"The loss of a job can be devastating for older workers," said Anna Park, regional attorney for the EEOC's Los Angeles District, whose jurisdiction includes southern Nevada. "The EEOC will vigorously enforce the Age Discrimination in Employment Act to protect older workers who face discrimination on the job."
Amy Burkholder, director of the EEOC's Las Vegas Local Office, added, "Nationally and in Nevada, age discrimination charges make up about a quarter of all complaints filed with the EEOC. Workers are increasingly aware of their rights, and employers must ensure that older workers are not targeted for unequal treatment."
According to Mattress Firm's website, www.mattressfirm.com, the Houston-based mattress retailer currently operates over 1,100 locations across 28 states.
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.