Sixteen former state employees have filed a class-action federal age discrimination lawsuit against state officials as a result of their firings last year.
The suit, filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Baltimore, alleges that employees over age 40 with a substantial time of government service were unlawfully targeted for termination and that the defendants disregarded state merit system rules that should have allowed the plaintiffs to bump into positions held by less senior employees during times of layoff.
Lucrezia Canaday, 55, of Reisterstown, one of the plaintiffs, said everyone laid off by the state in April 1991 was at least 47 years old. She said those employees had accumulated substantial time of service with the state, making them eligible for more benefits. Some, she said, were close to retirement.
"I had certainly looked forward to remaining until the normal retirement age of 62 or 65," Ms. Canaday, a former supervisor in the state's employment standards office, said yesterday.
"I had no reason to think that after 19 years of service this would happen. It's just terrible."
The suit, which seeks $20 million, charges that Maryland intentionally breached a contract with the fired employees.