Press Release


The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

NEW YORK CITY -- The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) today filed a class action age discrimination lawsuit against the national retail chain of F.W. Woolworth stores alleging that it laid off approximately 300 older workers on the basis of their age during a two-year period.

EEOC filed its suit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York against the Venator Group, Specialty, Inc., the nation's top retailer of athletic shoes and clothing, and owner of the former Woolworth stores. The complaint alleges that 300 employees over 40 years old were targeted for layoff because of their ages, and that many were promptly replaced by younger persons hired from the outside. EEOC seeks back pay and liquidated damages for violations of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, and an injunction to prevent Venator from discriminating in the future.

"Firms that attempt to force out and replace their older employees do so at their peril," said James Lee, EEOC's New York Regional Attorney. "Even when a retailing giant contemplates liquidating a chain of stores, it may not single out its most senior employees for adverse treatment."

Spencer H. Lewis, Jr., EEOC's New York District Director added that "reductions-in-force may be a necessary fact of economic life; age discrimination is not. Productive hard-working employees with 20 to 30 years experience deserve better than to be displaced by younger less-experienced persons hired off the street."

The EEOC enforces Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, which prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin; the Age Discrimination in Employment Act; the Equal Pay Act; prohibitions against discrimination affecting individuals with disabilities in the federal sector; sections of the Civil Rights Act of 1991; and Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in the private sector and state and local governments. Further information about the Commission is available on the agency's web site (

This page was last modified on July 2, 1999.