ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC)- Four former employees of the Kahler properties in downtown Rochester were suddenly fired shortly after a key investor became involved with the hotels. Now, an age discrimination lawsuit is underway and they say comments from that key investor, Javon Bea, are to blame.
It may not be an easy job, but somebody had to do it.
"Hotel work is always a challenge, I love a challenge."
Sandra Woodford had worked with the Kahler Hotel properties in some capacity for 29 years, working her way to director of leasing operations and holding that position for the last 12 years.
"I had 90,000 square feet of lease space, I had 137 tenants and I tried to see them all at least once a week," says Woodford.
The relationships with management and tenants were strong, and things were going well for Woodford, until the end of January of 2013, when new ownership entered the fray.
"Our Regional was removed from his position on the 7th of February, and I noticed at that point that my job was listed on Interstate Careers online," Woodford explains. "I was just devastated, I did not know or expect that would happen."
But things were going well for Sandra at her job, why the sudden change?
She believes it all comes down to the new person in front of it all: Javon Bea.
"I learned that he was looking for a young, aggressive man," says Woodford. "That, in another conversation, he said that she's on Medicare, she's on Medicade, her age is impeding her."
It is statements like these that Sandra's attorney believes could be all the evidence they need in what has now become an age discrimination lawsuit against the hotel management company.
"The employers are usually very subtle about trying to get rid of older workers, and so it makes it a much more difficult age discrimination case," explains Alf Sivertson, an attorney based in St. Paul. "But as I said, this is the smoking gun, it's direct evidence of age discrimination, it's blatant."
It is the alleged reason for the firing of four long-time employees.
"They were all good, skilled, knowledgeable people, and I just felt that something is wrong here, and that is when we talked to our attorneys," says Woodford.
Not being with the Kahler properties has put a road block in Sandra's plans for the future, which is why she is looking for justice when her day in court arrives.
That will take place in U.S. District Court in Minnesota. The case was originally filed in Olmsted County but it is being moved due to the structure of Interstate Hotels and Resorts, Inc.
There is no word yet on when Sandra and the three other former employees will have their case heard in front of a judge.
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