Getting the Ax - February 25, 2010
Longtime Tucson Target employees say they were forced out because of their higher salaries
by Mari Herreras at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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“According to Manny Lovio, after 26 years with Target he was asked to quit. When he refused, he was fired. He was escorted to his desk to clean out his belongings and then guided out of the store in front of co-workers and customers.
. . . shortly after his dismissal, his best friend at the company, Lavonne Beckford, was also fired. And over the last five years, other longtime employees he knew from his early days at Target were also forced to quit or were fired. The former co-workers started meeting with each other and sharing their stories.
They say they began to notice a pattern. Their group, mostly hired in the '80s, had each been with the retail company for 20 years or more. Most of them were salaried executives, making more than $50,000 a year, sometimes even more. Besides the wages, the employees had full benefits, and most were eligible for up to five weeks of vacation. "They could hire two or three people at the price they were paying us," Lovio says.
According to a former Target manager . . . Lovio and his former co-workers are right. Target is all about image, so getting rid of older employees is a good way to make room for younger executives.
They look better, and the moves save money, he says. The manager worked for the company for 21 years with Beckford and Lovio. "Mostly, I saw that. . . as you got older and your pay increased, the feeling was that you were a problem," he says.
During management meetings, the long-time employees identified as problems were called "blockers," he says.
"It was understood that I could hire someone 10 years younger than these people, at half the pay, and they had college degrees. I'd sit during the management meetings, and we'd identify who is a 'blocker'—which meant they needed to leave the company," he says.
The former manager says layoffs or buyouts of long-time employees would have cost the company money, so instead, the corporation put pressure on the store managers.
"We were told to figure out how to get rid of these blockers that cost too much money," he said. José Garcia figures he was probably considered a blocker when he was fired from Target on Dec. 14, 2008, after working for the company for 21 years.
Lavonne Beckford, a former Target employee filed a discrimination lawsuit against the retail company in 2008.
When Target spokesperson Sarah Soriano was first contacted, she denied that Target was being sued for discrimination in Tucson, and said the company hadn't been served. However, Soriano called back later and said she misspoke, confirming Target is in the midst of a lawsuit filed by Beckford. "Unfortunately, I can't comment on any litigation or any of these specific allegations," Soriano says.
When asked if "blocker" is a word used by Target management to describe executive team leaders who've been identified as being with the company for too long, Soriano says it isn't a term used in Target corporate culture.”