Former Mattel set builder sues company for age discrimination | KFI AM 640

TORRANCE (CNS) – A 69-year-old longtime Mattel set and set builder is suing the El Segundo-based toymaker, alleging he was forced to quit in 2021 because he couldn’t no longer tolerate a work environment in which his colleagues and supervisors berated him because of his age.

Bernard Grisez lawsuit in Torrance Superior Court alleges wrongful termination, age discrimination and harassment, failure to prevent harassment and discrimination, retaliation and intentional infliction of emotional distress . Grisez seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.

A representative for Mattel could not immediately be reached for comment on the May 24 lawsuit.

“Throughout Mr. Grisez’s employment, his colleagues and supervisors at Mattel subjected him to a barrage of taunts and harassment, repeatedly asking him when he would retire, commenting on his age, calling him “old man”, saying he needed a walker to get around and posting hurtful images of him in the office,” the lawsuit alleges.

Grisez “find himself in an extremely toxic and hostile work environment where he was regularly berated, mocked and ridiculed by his peers and supervisors because of his age,” according to the lawsuit.

Grisez was directly employed by two recruitment agencies, Team Music and Knowledge Services Inc., which placed him with Mattel from May 2004 until his release last October, the lawsuit says. Knowledge Services is co-accused in the lawsuit.

In May 2004, Grisez, then 51, started working at Mattel as a part-time set builder, but two years later he and other set builders had to work full-time, says the trial.

Grisez managed Mattel’s set construction for some of the toy industry’s biggest trade shows and had significant responsibilities, including training newer and often younger employees, the lawsuit says.

Despite Grisez’s “exemplary work history and indisputable skills,” he was repeatedly passed over for promotion opportunities due to his age, according to the suit. Mattel instead offered promotions to younger employees with less experience, some of whom had been trained by the plaintiff, according to the suit.

In 2018, one of Mr. Grisez’s colleagues photographed the plaintiff’s face in the photo of veteran comedy actor Don Knotts with white hair who played an elderly, menial character on the television show “Three’s Company”, indicates the trial.

“This insulting and hurtful image was recorded in the public areas of Mattel’s office,” the lawsuit states.

When Grisez protested age discrimination to Mattel’s human resources, the company backed up its claims, the lawsuit says. But rather than take corrective action, Grisez was told he had to take less pay if he wanted to become a permanent employee, according to the lawsuit.

“Plaintiff was constructively terminated for refusing to accept these terms and conditions,” the suit states.

Mattel hired two 20-year-old employees in November to replace Grisez, the lawsuit says.

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