Former bank employees sue over layoffs

May 13, 1994|By David Conn | David Conn,Sun Staff Writer

Some 150 laid-off employees of the former First American banks yesterday filed a class-action lawsuit charging they lost their jobs because of age and race discrimination after First Union Corp. acquired the banks last year.

The suit, filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, asks for the reinstatement of the employees -- close to a third of whom worked in Maryland -- plus unspecified back pay and damages that could amount to "hundreds of millions of dollars," according to the plaintiffs' attorney, Jane Lang of Sprenger and Lang in Washington.

Charlotte-based First Union bought First American Metro Corp. of McLean, Va., parent of the First American banks in Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia, in February 1993. It soon announced that about 1,100 of nearly 3,000 area employees would be laid off in the next year.

Along with First Union, the lawsuit names First American Metro and Harry Albright, the court-appointed trustee for the parent company. It maintains that First Union discriminated against blacks and older workers in the layoff process.

First Union "has intentionally and disproportionately terminated its non-white, older employees and has been and is still replacing them with younger, white employees," Ms. Lang said in a statement.

First Union spokesman David Scanzoni said "because that's in litigation, we'll have to decline comment on the suit itself and the issues surrounding it."

Of the 150 plaintiffs, 45 are black and 105 were over age 40 when they were laid off.

Another six plaintiffs, not part of those two prospective classes,

claim discrimination based on national origin.

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