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Managers & 49ers Settle Age Discrimination Suit

     SAN FRANCISCO (CN) – The San Francisco 49ers settled an age discrimination lawsuit brought by two former managers this week.
     Former facilities manager Anthony Lozano, 56, and former video operations director Keith Yanagi, 59, sued the team and its CEO Jed York in January, claiming the team fired them to make room for young Silicon Valley tech workers. Both men had worked for the team for over 20 years.
     The plaintiffs claimed York wanted to rebrand the 49ers as an NFL “technology startup” so the team could move to a new stadium in Silicon Valley.
     When asked why he wanted to hire young tech workers, the CEO allegedly said, “Because they made a lot of money, they did a lot of cool things before they turned 40 years old, and they don’t want to play golf six days a week,” according to the complaint.
     The 49ers filed a motion to dismiss the complaint in July, arguing that Lozano signed a separation and release agreement which frees the team from all liability. The team also said that both Lozano and Yanagi accepted severance agreements when they left the company, which “forever released” the 49ers from “all actions, causes of action, debts, sums of money, damages, judgments, claims and demands whatsoever.”
     Lozano received six months’ salary and 12 months of health insurance benefits as his severance package while Yanagi got six months’ salary and six months of health insurance premiums, according to the July 15 motion to dismiss.
     The 49ers also filed a motion to compel arbitration for claims raised in the lawsuit in July, arguing that the severance and release agreements signed by the plaintiffs required arbitration to settle any disputes.
     In their original complaint, the plaintiffs claimed the 49ers violated the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, Older Workers Benefits Protection Act, and Fair Employment and Housing Act.
     The two formers managers also accused the team of wrongful termination, fraud and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
     Attorneys for both parties did not return requests for comment on the confidential settlement agreement.
     A 49ers spokesman said, “The matter has been settled and the parties have no further comment.”
     U.S. District Judge Thelton Henderson dismissed the case with prejudice on Oct. 8, giving both parties a 120-day window to rescind their approval of the settlement.

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