Jury backs Chiefs in age-discrimination case

03/06/2013 6:11 PM

05/16/2014 9:23 PM

A Jackson County jury sided with the Chiefs on Wednesday, ruling the NFL organization did not discriminate against a former employee when he was fired.

Steve Cox, formerly a maintenance manager for the Chiefs, claimed he was terminated in 2010 because of his age — he was 61 at the time.

During the Jackson County Circuit Court trial in Independence, Cox said that he was told he was fired for poor performance. But he said he believed he was terminated so the Chiefs could hire a younger replacement.

The Chiefs claimed during the trial that Cox was fired after he went against the wishes of a supervisor and giving an employee a pay raise.

Cox had been asking for back pay in excess of $400,000, according to a report in the Kansas City Business Journal, plus additional money in damages. Former Chiefs general manager Scott Pioli testified during the trial.

The Chiefs declined to answer questions after the verdict was announced. But they did release a statement that read, “We are pleased with today’s verdict. We appreciate the time and effort the jury gave with regards to the facts of the case.”

Two additional age-discrimination lawsuits against the Chiefs, both brought by former employees who also believe they were wrongfully terminated, remain headed for trial.

Former controller Larry Clemmons and former community relations director Brenda Sniezek have filed separate suits against the team in Jackson County Circuit Court.

The Chiefs claimed that each case should be submitted to the NFL for arbitration rather than be tried in court. A judge in Jackson County declined to order arbitration, however, and said the trials could proceed.

The Chiefs appealed to the Western District of the Missouri Court of Appeals, but the appeals court last week upheld the decision of the trial judge.

No trial date has been set in either of the second two cases.

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