Former Employee Accuses Tyson Foods of Age Discrimination

Amy Fitzgerald claimed in a Northern District of Texas complaint on Tuesday that Tyson Foods, Inc., her former employer, illegally terminated her in violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967. Fitzgerald purported that the company “discriminated against her in the terms, conditions and privileges of employment because of her age,” and that she had less favorable working conditions than younger employees before her employment was terminated. 

According to the complaint, the plaintiff has worked from her home office for Tyson as a Regional Sales Manager since 2017 when it acquired Advance Food Company, which she had been employed with since 1994. Fitzgerald claimed that she had received good performance ratings until October 2019 when for the first time she received an “inconsistent” performance rating. The complaint said the reasons stated in the review were that she “was distracted and spending too much time with her family.”  

The plaintiff reported that she “was dumbfounded” after receiving the report and had not previously been told she was not performing well. She signed the report as requested, but told her manager that she did not agree with it. The complaint further explained that during 2019 Tyson transitioned to pull Sara Lee and AdvancePierre into one system, which reportedly caused “massive chaos” where employees could not view inventory or ensure deliveries. Fitzgerald reported that she “believes that none of the sales persons in her division made their quotas in 2019 and 2020 because there were major shortages to customers.” 

After the poor review, the plaintiff claimed that without notice her manager took 80 percent of her accounts and gave them to a man who was 10 years younger than her, specifically one of her largest accounts. The account owners reportedly asked to be assigned again to her, but the company did not allow it, even after the person who took the account resigned and the accounts were given to younger employees or employees who lived in a different area. 

Additionally, Fitzgerald claimed she was given a smaller bonus in 2019 than her coworkers, was not acknowledged at a national sales meeting for reaching 25 years, was criticized for “ineffective CRM usage” when other salespersons were struggling as well, and was placed on a performance improvement plan when others with similar numbers were not. The plaintiff was reportedly terminated for not successfully completing her performance improvement plan by the deadline. 

Fitzgerald claimed that the discrimination against her was willful and asked the court to judge in her favor, grant a permanent injunction against Tyson, require the defendant to create a non-retaliation provision for employees over 40, and award her damages including back pay and benefits. 

The plaintiff is represented by Neill Legler Cole PLLC