Six former Kroger store managers said in a recent federal lawsuit that they were forced into retirement because of their age.
The plaintiffs are between the ages of 50 and 60 and had worked for The Kroger Co. of Cincinnati for between 30 and 40 years, according to the lawsuit filed in June in U.S. District Court in Little Rock. The former managers all said they were forced into retirement starting last year.
The plaintiffs said that Kroger adopted a plan in 2019 to slash costs by getting rid of older, highly paid managers through an early retirement plan. With bonuses, the plaintiffs generally were making more than $100,000 annually.
The managers said that they noticed in late 2019 that they were being held to different standards than the younger managers in their districts. The older managers were “assigned unreasonable goals and standards that were not applied to younger store managers,” the suit said. The plaintiffs are represented by Stephen W. Jones of the law firm Jack Nelson Jones of Little Rock.
The plaintiffs were “subjected to constant comments regarding their age, tenure and high compensation,” the suit said. “They were constantly reminded that they were ‘senior’ store leaders, ‘seasoned’ managers, how highly compensated they were.”
Their replacement managers were all younger than 40 years old and were paid substantially less than the plaintiffs, the suit said.
The plaintiffs are suing for age discrimination and are seeking an unspecified amount of damages.
Kroger said in its answer that it denies that the plaintiffs were forced to retire. “Plaintiffs’ claims are barred because each Plaintiff voluntarily resigned from employment,” Kroger said in its answer to the lawsuit. It also denied the allegations of wrongdoing. Kroger is represented by the law firms of Dinsmore & Shohl of Cincinnati and Cross Gunter Witherspoon & Galchus of Little Rock.
A spokesperson for Kroger had no comment on the case.