A 64-year-old former Home Depot USA Inc. worker is suing the home improvement store chain, alleging he was wrongfully fired in 2020 because of his age and due to a false accusation by a colleague that he had disparaged a customer who was a supporter of President Donald Trump.
Mitchell Hyams’ Van Nuys Superior Court lawsuit alleges wrongful termination, age discrimination, retaliation and unfair and unlawful business practices. He seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages in the suit filed Tuesday.
A Home Depot representative could not be immediately reached for comment.
Hyams was hired to work in the plumbing section of the Woodland Hills store in November 2019, the suit states. The British accent of the London-born Hyams made him a favorite with customers and he was one of the oldest employees at the store, according to the suit.
Hyams was counting customers as part of his job on June 6 when a man leaving asked if there had been any problems at the store, the suit states.
When Hyams replied that there had not been any issues, the customer told the plaintiff, “You have Trump to thank for all this and you have Trump to thank for this job today,” the suit states.
Hyams replied, “You must be a Republican,” the suit states.
The man showed a cap indicating he was a Vietnam veteran and Hyams said in response, “Thank you for your service,” the suit states.
A week later, Hyams was called into a meeting with the store manager, who told Hyams that another store employee had heard him use the terms “(epithet) Republican” and “toy soldier” in reference to the customer who was a Trump supporter, the suit states.
Hyams said that “no such comments had come out of his mouth,” the suit states. However, the manager fired Hyams four days later, citing his alleged remarks about the customer, according to the suit.
The store never fully investigated the incident to get a full account of what happened, according to the suit. The store hired two people in their 20s to replace Hyams, the suit states.
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