HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WIAT) — An Alabama woman has filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, her former employer, claiming that the center discriminated against her based on her age.
Kimberly Clay, a former retail sales manager at the center, filed the lawsuit in federal court Friday. Clay claims that supervisors at the center had different standards for younger and older employees and that Clay’s supervisor made derogatory comments based on age.
Clay said that she heard more than a few derogatory comments from her supervisor and about her age. She went to human resources to complain about those comments and the next day she was out of a job.
According to the lawsuit, Clay’s supervisor made comments like “it smells like old ladies in here” and called the women who worked under Clay “part of the ‘old ladies’ club.'” Clay filed the federal lawsuit through attorneys Mastando and Artrip in Huntsville.
“She was concerned about that, and she expressed her concerns. It became so bad that she filed a formal complaint with human resources about the treatment of older workers and the following day she was terminated,” attorney Eric Artrip tells News 19.
Once, Clay said in the lawsuit, her supervisor ordered her to fire another older employee for leaving early when younger employees did so repeatedly without consequence. In May of last year, Clay said she informally complained to a human resources representative regarding what she perceived as different standards for employees based on age. The HR representative, Clay said, told her to discipline younger employees who left early or took breaks beyond what was permitted.
On May 19, Clay filed a formal complaint with human resources about the alleged age discrimination, the lawsuit claims. A day later, Clay said, she was fired, replaced by a 26-year-old with what she characterized as “very little experience.”
Her firing, Clay claims, was an act of illegal age discrimination. The termination, she argues, was retaliation for complaining about the treatment of older employees.
The lawsuit against the U.S. Space & Rocket Center asks that the court enjoin the center from discriminating on the basis of age and award Clay back pay and an equal amount in damages “in an amount to be determined” by the court.
“Individually we would ask a jury for whatever they think is fair to compensate her for the way that she was treated. But also, and more fundamentally we would ask the space and rocket center to conduct itself in a way that complies with the law and doesn’t treat all their workers like they are disposable,” said Artrip.
The U.S. Space & Rocket Center’s response to the claims was, “We don’t comment on matters of litigation,” according to a representative on Wednesday.