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Four women, all over the age of 40, have filed a lawsuit against their former employer, alleging they were laid off from their jobs at a job placement center because of their age.
Norma Gonzalez and Rita Rodriguez each spent more than two decades at Hub Cities Consortium, a job training and placement center that services people in Maywood, Cudahy, Huntington Park and nearby cities.
The lawsuit claims they were laid off in 2017 due to budget constraints. The women said they loved their jobs, were in higher and managerial roles and had good employment records.
"I thought I was wanted, that I was doing a good job," Rodriguez said through tears.
They are two of four women over the age of 40 named in the lawsuit against the center and its executive director.
Attorney Nicholas Spencer says that after the women were let go, the company hired younger employees and the remaining employees were given pay raises upward of 10 percent.
Rodriguez says a younger woman with less experience became a supervisor. The lawsuit also alleges the director asked her in a meeting if she was going to retire anytime soon.
Rodriguez also says she was part of a conversation with him and another supervisor about Gonzalez, who was battling breast cancer.
"He looked at me and he says she was complaining, complaining about a pimple," Rodriguez said.
Gonzalez says she was just thinking of her insurance.
"Just thinking that I wasn't finished with my chemo treatments," she said.
Gonzalez says she felt pressured to return prematurely from her medical leave and claims in the complaint she felt compelled to show her scars to two supervisors.
"I literally opened my shirt," Gonzalez said. "I had to prove a point to them. I had to fight for my job."
In a statement, Hub Cities denied the allegations made in the complaint. "Hub Cities Consortium has been served with the complaint and denies the allegations made therein," the statement read. "Please note Hub Cities Consortium will vigorously defend itself against these claims; in the meantime Hub Cities Consortium will not comment on any of the details of this pending litigation involving confidential personnel issues."
The Los Angeles County Department of Workforce Development, Aging and Community Services has contracts with the center. More than $3.5 million goes to Hub Cities every year.
"We have two contracts with Hub, the One Stop Operator for America's Job Centers of California and the Senior Community Service Employment Program," said Derrick Martin, a department spokesman, in a statement. "Both contracts have a term of July 1, 2018 — June 30, 2020. Hub receives federal, state and local funds to provide workforce services to youth, adults, and seniors. "Los Angeles County Department of Workforce Development, Aging and Community Services will decline, at this time, to interview regarding this matter as the Department was not named in the lawsuit. Our Department will continue to monitor the matter to take appropriate action. The County and the Department require all employees and contractors to conduct themselves in accordance with all applicable local, county, state and federal laws."
Spencer said this is something of interest to LA County residents. "This is where your tax dollars are going," he said. The women say the have been forced into early retirement.
"I was not ready to retire," Gonzalez said. "I had 13 more years to go."
While they are seeking compensation, the women say ultimately they do not want others still working at the center to be put into a position they were in and hope something is done to change the management there.