Seven former employees of a McDonald’s restaurant in Northridge sued the company, alleging they were fired because they were over 40 years old.
The six women and one man filed suit Friday in Los Angeles Superior Court against McDonald’s Restaurants of California Inc. The complaint alleges age discrimination, wrongful termination and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The suit seeks unspecified damages.
In a statement, McDonald’s spokesman Jesse Lopez wrote: “At McDonald’s we pride ourselves in providing excellent employment opportunities for all of our staff and crew members regardless of age, race, religion, sex or disability.
“As this is a pending legal matter, it would be inappropriate for us to respond at this time,” the statement continued.
According to the complaint, the plaintiffs were “hard-working restaurant workers whose careers ended abruptly as part of their employer’s deliberate and unlawful scheme to replace them with a substantially younger workforce.”
The alleged plan to rid the Parthenia Street restaurant of older workers began with the hiring of new manager Maria Contreras in 2012, the suit alleges. She cut the hours of older workers and denied them the chance to take their rest breaks on time, according to the lawsuit.
When Contreras’ alleged attempts to force the older workers to quit by marginalizing them was not successful, she took advantage of a remodeling of the restaurant that began in December 2013 to pursue her goals, the suit states. She said selected younger employees would be transferred to other McDonald’s restaurants during the renovation and that those who were not selected could re-apply later at the Parthenia Street location, the suit states.
“In the weeks leading up to the renovation, Contreras expressly declared her intention to staff the Parthenia restaurant with a younger, English-speaking workforce,” the suit states.
After the renovation, none of the plaintiffs were offered their old jobs back, the suit alleges.
One plaintiff, 52-year-old Josefina Rosario Flores, began working at McDonald’s in July 2003 and was a cook, drive-through employee and maintenance worker, the suit states. After Flores — who was unmarried and supported herself financially — asked Contreras to be one of those sent to another restaurant while the Parthenia location was renovated, Contreras responded that she only wanted “puro gente joven” — meaning only young people — and that she “did not want old people to staff the Parthenia restaurant,” the suit states.
Another plaintiff, 63-year-old Celia Zamora, was hired by McDonald’s in March 1996 and worked in food preparation and cleaning, the suit states. She had a “pristine disciplinary record” and was never written up during her time with the company, the suit states.
However, Zamora also was not offered a transfer during the Parthenia renovation nor was she rehired when it was completed, the suit states.
“Instead, McDonald’s would ultimately recognize Zamora’s loyalty and many years of service by firing her,” the suit states.
— City News Service