A 71-year-old former Mattel employee is suing the company, alleging he was falsely accused of unnecessarily calling women over to his desk to justify his firing when the real reason was his age.
Benny Binshtock's Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit was filed Friday and the allegations include age-based harassment and discrimination, wrongful termination, retaliation, intentional infliction of emotional distress, defamation and fraud and concealment. The suit seeks unspecified damages.
"Plaintiff believes that his age was a contributing factor in the decision of terminating his employment with the purpose of bringing younger employees into plaintiff's position...," the suit states.
A Mattel representative did not immediately reply to a request for comment.
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Binshtock began working for Mattel in September 1968 as an apprentice model maker and was later promoted to supervisor, according to his complaint.
"Throughout his lengthy term of employment with defendants, plaintiff's department of model makers had not seen new hires for a considerable amount of time," the suit states "The ages of the people in this department ranged from 40 to 65 years and these employees had worked for defendants for many years."
A round of layoffs began in March 2018 and it was "evident that defendants had begun a clear pattern of terminating employees older in age," the suit alleges.
Within the same month, Binshtock was called into a meeting with human resources and told there was a complaint against him of sexual harassment, the suit states.
"Plaintiff was accused of incessantly calling women over to his office for his own visual amusement rather than for anything work-related," the suit states.
"This was a baseless accusation that was fabricated to defame plaintiff of his long earned reputable status with (Mattel)."
During the same meeting, the human resources representative changed her accusation against Binshtock from sexual harassment to "simply having made women uncomfortable," the suit states.
Binshtock was called into a final meeting in May 2018 and told that after an investigation, management had decided to fire him, the suit states.
He was terminated the following month and was 70 years old at the time, the suit states.
"The allegations that he had unnecessarily called women over to his desk were baseless and unwarranted," the suit states.
"Plaintiff had never been one to insinuate trouble and it is evident from the length of time he remained employed with (Mattel)."